You Have To Watch The Men On Gogglebox Reacting To Hollyoaks’ Male Violence Campaign

Their latest commentary feels long in the making.


by Marianna Manson |
Published on

You may not be a Hollyoaks fan, but if you watched Gogglebox last week, you’ll have seen the landmark episode chronicling one character’s dangerous – but chillingly relatable -  journey home after a night out. The one-episode special won commendation for partnering with the Home Office on its Long Walk Home campaign, attempting to raise awareness of women’s safety and the everyday threats to our safety we all face.

Following Sarah Everard's murder in 2021, we saw widespread promises from the police and government to tackle women’s safety head on. Activists warned that the focus must shift away from the way women are expected to change their behaviour and instead toward teaching men and boys about consent, harassment and preventing violence themselves. Those efforts may sometimes feel futile, but if the reactions of the men on Gogglebox are anything to go by, it looks as though progress is happening - at least, when they're recorded on TV for the viewing public.

We'll admit, the Hollyoaks episode (and corresponding VR Immersive Experience on Youtube) spelled out the experiences of women so well it made it impossible to miss the message, but rather than rejecting the significance with a chorus of 'NOT ALL MEN' as women have become used to when speaking up about male violence, the Gogglebox cast surprised viewers by having more empathy than expected.

Most pleasing was eldest Plummer brother Tremaine (he of Tristan, Twaine and Tremaine fame) who gave an encouraging monologue to his younger brothers, asserting that ‘Blokes don’t realise what that sort of behaviour does.’

'Why are women being educated on what they should wear, [or] how they should have their hair?' he said. 'We should be talking to the people who are creating the trouble.’

‘We need to be doing better for sure,' Tristan agreed.

Other commendable commentary included Shaun Malone pointing out: ‘It’s kind of got to be on TV, because it’s a big, important thing. But it’s an uncomfortable watch, isn’t it?’, and Marcus Luther acknowledging: ‘That is so unfair – and that’s a lot of women’s reality.’

‘It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying “it’s not all men, it’s not me, I’ve got nothing to do with that I would never do that”,’ relative newbie Joe told his girlfriend Roisin. ‘But I think, with this sort of thing, that’s not enough.’

Over the years, we’ve seen the cast of Gogglebox and their perspectives evolve to reflect the national mood. In just short of a decade that the show has been on air, we’ve seenthinly veiled racism and casual misogyny exchanged for nuanced sociological commentary through the medium of reality TV.

Should we be applauding men for finally grasping the most fundamental of female experiences? Perhaps not, perhaps we should be holding them to much higher standards. But to be honest, being able to put themselves in our shoes feels like a big step up compared to where we were just a few short years ago. Seeing some men on television hold their mates accountable for sexist behaviour and take the testimonies of their girlfriends and mates more seriously, it is uplifting in a sea of terrible news. We’re seeing more powerful men - most recently, Stormzy - speak openly about the work of deconstructing and ‘unlearning’ patterns of toxic masculinity harmful to everyone. If Gogglebox is a microcosm of all corners of British society, then the fact men are finally starting to listen could be the much longed-for sign of hope we’ve been waiting for.

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