Channel 4 tonight aired the first episode of ‘The Family’, introducing the British public to the Grewals. It is the first time that a British Indian family has undergone the rigours – and scrutiny – of reality tv.
The first episode introduced us to the three generations of Grewals who all live in their five-bedroom pebble-dashed house directly under the Heathrow flight path in Windsor. There’s Sarbjit and Arvinder (mum and dad) who have been together for 35 years; eldest son Sunny together with his fiance Shay; pregnant daughter Kaki and her husband Jeet; and youngest son Tindy.
The series begun with the Grewals planning a traditional Indian wedding for Sunny and Shay. But rather than take a fetishistic view that accentuated the family’s otherness, the show focused on the fact that the Grewals are like so many other ‘normal’ families in today’s Britain. And with this, viewers were introduced to the fact that there was a dark cloud hanging over the wedding preparations because of the breakdown in the relationship between Shay and her own mother. It’s strong and emotional but essentially normal: something that everyone that has had family problems or tensions will identify with.
At the same time though, and as with most families, the stress and strains of everyday life are lightened by the banter between Sarbjit and Arvinder, the self-proclaimed “man-of-the-house”. One particularly wonderful image was of Sarbjit playing shoot’em up games on a laptop whilst she and her husband were having their heair dyed.
As The Guide in Saturday’s Guardian put it, the show is filmed with a lot of love. And no doubt as the series unfolds, so a lot of love will be shown to the Grewals, the latest in a long line of great British families.
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