TV UK, 23 September
No Sex Please: We’re Teenagers: a 'discombobulating' experience.
At the end of the final episode of No Sex Please: We’re Teenagers on Tuesday night (BBC2), the teenagers were asked to sum up their experience of the project in one word. ‘Discombobulating’, was the unexpected choice of 17-year-old Jenine. A fine word, that.
Certainly, Jenine showed more verbal flair than the Christian youth workers in charge of the project, in which a group of teenagers was asked to abstain from sex for five months (1). Those who did succumb to temptation were said to have ‘done a whoopsie’. It would indeed be hard not to be discombobulated by that, but then if the programme had any value it had less to do with the merits or otherwise of abstinence than the fact that whatever their sexual habits, most teenagers could do with a good discombobulating.
There was another bizarre thesaurus malfunction on Tuesday, when the BBC spent much of the day telling us that Iraqi police had been ‘penetrated’ by insurgents. This remained the word of choice for some time, and even featured in the headlines of the Today programme on Radio 4 on Wednesday morning, though for the report itself, someone had come up with the more suitable ‘infiltrated’.
Sticking with Iraq, sort of, there was an interesting bit of verbal ambiguity in last night’s episode of Lost (Channel 4), when Sayid volunteered to rough up the handsome rogue Sawyer – who was thought to be hiding medicine – pointing out by way of qualification that he had been in the Republican Guard. ‘I thought you were a communications officer?’ Jack said. ‘Part of my training was in persuading prisoners to communicate,’ came the reply. Enough said.
But while Sayid had to grapple with his personal ghosts even as he applied the bamboo, really it was Sawyer’s episode. The island bad boy’s somewhat tedious flirtation with Kate (really, if Jack doesn’t kill this guy soon, he’ll only have himself to blame) continued with the inevitable revelation of vulnerability in the form of a letter Sawyer wrote as a child and carries with him always. It was addressed to a conman who destroyed his family, but whose identity the boy has now guiltily assumed in adulthood. But the real pathos was in the grammatical naivety: ‘I know what you done.’
I think it’s Lost’s engaging lack of plot that draws the viewer’s attention to these things. I know there are people out there still trying to ‘get it’, to solve the mystery, but I’m sure they’re missing the point. This is a series you just have to live with. Am I the only one to have found myself singing ‘You all everybody’, the song sung by Charlie’s band? And that title doesn’t even make sense. No, the search for hidden meaning in this programme is pretty futile, I suspect, and it’s best not to get discombobulated about it.
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