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Sunday, 16 March 2014

Reality TV? Move along please, nothing to see here

From time to time, on some forums that I belong to that are concerned with inmates and their families, there are request from media production companies and journalists. These requests are usually looking for people who have "fallen for a felon" or "are in love with their inmate penpal". We even had one recently that was offering $500 to cover the "first date".

So-called reality TV is all the rage, though I really don't understand why. Could it be because the people watching have less interesting lives themselves? Or possibly that the people watching can feel smug in the assumption that their lives are in some way better? I think it's probably a bit of both, depending on the subject content.

But why would anyone want to watch a programme about a woman in love with an inmate? Be under no illusions, there really is no way to accurately depict this lifestyle in a sensitive way, and really that's not what the media companies want anyway. I can only think that any such programme would turn out like the "My Big Fat Gypsy" series. On one hand, it shows Irish traveller life in modern Britain, but on the other it holds those people up for ridicule with their fake tans, their gaudy bling and their attitudes to women. How would a programme on inmates and their partners on the outside be any different?

I recon anyone watching my life through a lens would be thinking either "sad cow" or yawning into their popcorn. My husband did a bad thing that got him to prison, but he's not a typical bad boy now he is in there. He is not in fights, is not in Ad Seg (Administrative Segregation in Texas, and often called the SHU or the Hole in other states, effectively a prison within a prison), and is not fighting to proclaim his innocence. He is also not a muscle man or covered in tattoos. I'm not on benefits, don't make my 27 kids go without just so I can visit him, and we don't spend hours on the phone every day using money I should be spending on utility bills. Regular readers of this blog will know that we don't get phone calls at all.

I also don't sit around wallowing in self-pity that my "one true love" is locked away on the other side of the ocean for at least another 10 years. It could not be said that I am "wasting my life" or putting it "on hold". When I'm not at work, I do a lot of crafts, socialise and travel. Sometimes I do these things by myself, and sometimes I do them with friends or family.

In fact, I dare say I am very much like thousands of other women in the UK and the rest of the world, who live by themselves and are getting on with life. I just happen to also be married to a man who is in prison in America.

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