The Big Debate: Does TV Have a Classist Agenda?


There’s nothing like a good, robust discussion to get the blood pumping and the cogs turning in the midst of an otherwise mundane work day. Last time, The Big Debate discussed the idea of franchise fatigue, and whether the associated claiming of release dates, years in advance, was a good or bad thing for the audience. This time, while the rest of the UK is focused on the historic referendum for Scottish Independence, Andrew Heaton and Sarah Myles are turning their attention to a very different, but no less complex issue – the presence, or not, of classism in TV.

Representation in the media is a very hot topic right now, with various sections of society quite rightly becoming increasingly vocal on the issue. The reason is simple: it’s important to see ourselves portrayed fairly, because the media is hugely influential in the formation of both public opinion, and of individual self-esteem. We complain when women are sidelined, because it both reflects and reinforces patriarchal attitudes in society. We complain when shows are populated only with white people, because it both reflects and reinforces attitudes of white privilege in society. We complain when the media is so heavily biased toward able-bodied people, because it both reflects and reinforces the sidelining of everyone who isn’t. But, we rarely talk about class. Why is that? Given how the concept of class structure has become ever more apparent in global terms since the current economic crisis took hold, it seems bizarre that the subject is still more or less taboo – at least in the UK.

So, as our comments section prepares itself to welcome your contributions to this discussion, our writers enter the debate arena – prepared to deploy reasoned argument with cat-like reflexes.