So it’s back, and with a new family to gawk it, it all got off to a rather impressive start. I’m unashamedly a fan of fly-on-the-wall; I can’t help myself, though oddly, I do no curtain twitching in my own home. I don’t even know what most of my near neighbours are called, but show me a house full of people I don’t even know being filmed, and I’m there.
This time around, the family we’re spying on are the Grewals, who, judging by first impressions are analogous to the Garnetts in Til Death Us Do Part. There was stubbornness, curmudgeonliness and obstreperous moaning, and that was just from mum and dad Sarbjit and Arvinder. And like Alf and Elsie Garnett, their apparent animosity towards each other belies a deep affection that you might have to dig deep to see, but know is there.
And like Alf Garnett’s daughter Rita, the Grewals are not strangers to having parents disapprove of a choice of partner. For Rita, Alf’s daughter, it was “that lazy scouse git” her dad objected to, but for women in the Grewal family, their marrying a man from a Sikh caste who’s considered “below” them has caused seemingly irrevocable and very sad family divides.
My overall impression of the Grewal family is that they’re warm, loving and in large part, keeping the faiths of their religion but adapting some aspects to accommodate living in a Western society. And it seems it’s not a comfortable or easy hybrid this West meets traditional Sikh values.
We heard how Arvinder and Sarbjit met for the first time on the day of their marriage while daughter-in-law Shay met and fell in love with Sunny Grewal, and has been estranged from her own mother because of it. However, though Arvinder and Sarbjit were themselves ‘forced’ into marriage, they wholly support Shay who chose her love for Sunny over her family’s wishes. It’s all very sad.
But there were plenty of comedic moments in amongst the deeper issues about religion and culture, such as Arvinder slogging away on his exercise bike and repeatedly yelling Sarbjit to get him a cup of tea. When she stoically ignored him, he rang her on her mobile, forcing her to issue forth a mumble of, “Stupid man…” while Arvinder was clearly quite smug about interrupting her rest.
Alf and Elsie would’ve been proud…
Another little nugget of amusement came when Arvinder said of Sarbjit, “I care! I have to care because in the end, she’s the only one who’s going to cook for me.”
Ooo, so close to a Brownie point there Arvinder, but you lost it again with the cooking reference…
Another interesting character is younger Grewal, Tindy. He’s clearly up to all sorts of things he really shouldn’t be and, like millions of other young men in the world, he knows how to stick dirty clothes in the washer but not how to then miraculously turn them into clean, ironed ones that turn up in bedroom.
I’m already hooked and can’t wait to see the next episodes!