Weekend TV – Unreported World: USA Down And Out

We’re used to seeing programmes about those far less fortunate of course, but Unreported World on Friday told the story of the largely ignored unfortunates who were previously the living embodiments of America’s dream.

These people have arguably remained in the shadows because America doesn’t like to flaunt its failings, and failings these people undoubtedly are, though through no fault of their own.

Middle America has seen a boom and bust revolution in the last ten years, and Ramita Navai and Clancy Chassay investigated the victims of the bust; families who’re homeless, jobless, and struggling to survive on the meager state handouts afforded to them.

These are people who’ve historically populated typical suburbs in the US, complete with picket fences and soccer moms, but in Chicago for instance, since the manufacturers left town, forced out by uneconomical business practices, people are sleeping in cars or are forced to take their families to shelters. Even if they’re still employed.

And in other states, tent cities have sprung up due to the influx of families needing accommodation as their homes have been repossessed. And in California, some 2,000 people sleep rough; people who previously had homes, jobs and were productive members of society.

It’s not news that millions of Americans are unemployed and homeless of course, but what is news are the stark predictions which suggest another 1.5 million Americans will add to that depressing statistic by 2012. In addition, more than 37 million Americans now receive food assistance from either state sources or private charities, and that figure looks set to increase too.

So as ever, Unreported World, and especially Navai and Chassay’s approach to this film – unbiased and fact-based reportage – made for sobering viewing, and many There But For The Grace Of God moments.

The real value of Unreported World is that it does exactly what it says on the tin; it goes where other filmmakers and reporters probably wouldn’t, but as this is an issue that’s rapidly becoming a crisis, more will surely follow.

I doubt, however, that they’ll be as good.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.