ThinkProgress’s culture blogger Alyssa Rosenberg explores The Myths And Challenges Of Making Working Class Television, writing that the main challenge is:

being working poor isn’t something that you solve once and it’s done.

There are plenty of movies that do this, because they can have one crisis and overcome that, and the story’s over. In TV, you have to have the next episode after that. The second season of Justified did a good job with this, examining life in coal country Kentucky. But even there, it’s through the lens of a US Marshal’s work chasing criminals, as with the second season of The Wire, which Rosenberg cites.

Read the rest, and better appreciate why Think Progress brought in a culture blogger.


  1. Here’s what I said about it four years ago:

    If there was no destitution then the demands of the working class for a better deal would be a lot stronger. The threat of poverty drives wages down for the near poor. In order to make maximal use of this resource for social management the poor have to be despised. The never far away condition that they could fall to if they get too aggressive has to be shown to be a living hell with little chance for escape. Working stiff is better than the other roles assigned to the poor, criminals, junkies, prostitutes, violent psychopaths, drunks, etc. And that most despised role of all, victim, don’t forget victim. Some of this hatred of our untouchables even bleeds through to the left, “trailer trash” is a term that is sometimes even used on the most leftist blogs.

    All of this hurts poor people, they suffer from the attitude of other people and from the damage it does to their opinion of themselves. It would be useful to know how much of the inertia of ingrained poverty is caused by people being convinced that it is hopeless to try to achieve a better life. It might give insights into other problems poor people sometimes have.

    If poor people were depicted on TV as good people the social order could truly be endangered. The class system could really fall. If the United States really acted as if it believed the children of poor parents were the equal of the richest of the rich it would have to feed, take care of and educate them as if they were something other than a threat to distract the middle classes with. The neo-Malthusian view of them as surplus population would become unfashionable again.

    What would happen if Postcards and other TV programs presented a lot more positive images of poor people*. Could America handle it? Would it be allowed to handle it? If poverty in itself wasn’t seen as a despicable thing a good part of the fear factor in middle class politics would lessen and with it the downward mobility pressures on wages and services. The assumption, built so rigorously by the corporate state and its organs of media, that all of the destitute were lazy, degenerate, “undeserving poor” could give way to the more idealistic American response of the New Deal era. The truly American way as opposed to the class snob way. What would happen to an oligarchy whose children were discouraged from being class snobs? Heavens, the young of the ruling class, itself, might someday fall in love and marry them! How would they feel if their daughter wanted to marry some nice, poor boy? Or girl?

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