Bog Off: Why Adults Watching Tracy Beaker Is Still OK
I, like many of my generation, sat down on Friday to watch My Mum: Tracy Beaker and I'm not afraid to say I watched all 3 episodes, at one point actually cried, and even though some of the scripting was questionable and it moved inexplicably fast for my liking: I LOVED IT.
I'm also not afraid to tell you that this isn't an uncommon occurrence for me - I've seen every episode of The Story of Tracy Beaker, (obviously - who hasn't), as well as every episode of Tracy Beaker Returns, and even saw most of The Dumping Ground (even though the Beaker wasn't in most of those episodes don't judge me). And yes...I'm 23. With this in mind, I think it is fair to say I have big love for TB.
While the original series and the few spin offs before My Mum came out highlighted issues within the care home, such as disability, bullying, child abuse and abandonment, this time watching as an adult and seeing Tracy's mental health go down a rabbit hole after that mofo Sean Godfrey broke her god damn beautiful heart... was both heart-breaking and refreshing. Having not seen anything on CBBC for a few years now, I was surprised at how they portrayed this massive part of life, something I certainly didn't think about when I was watching Tracy Beaker the first time round. And to have a character with such a cemented attitude go through what looked to me like a depression, on a children's tv network, was captivating - and showing the effect that that had on her daughter captured what it must be like for a child living in a household with mental illness.
The LGBT themes in the show were also ground-breaking - perhaps if you watch CBBC all the time you can correct me that it happens more often than not but certainly when I was at the age of watching the channel some 10 years ago it would never have happened. I was a tweet that pointed out that when Tracy Beaker was written in 1991, Section 28 was still in place meaning if you wanted a book to be published for children to be able to read it in their library, there could be no LGBT themes, and maybe Jacqueline Wilson intended for Cam to be gay/bi back in the day, hence why she adopted. Quite an interesting theory, as the author came out as gay in April 2020,, as she released her first openly LGBT characters in Love Frankie, her 111th book. In an interview with The Guardian, she said she had said that she had never written a book focused on a member of the LGBT community "because she was telling stories about children with problems, and she didn’t see “any problem whatsoever with being gay”." I think that's one of my favourite quotes ever, and just reinstates why she is a Dame, and why she means so much to so many.
The reason I think it is totally acceptable for an adult like me to be watching this new series in the Beaker franchise is because it's just great to see how far children's television has come. Even as recently as 10 years ago, you would never see two women getting married on children's television, but representing this and mental health in a show that the writers and producers have to know that nostalgic adults will be watching too, is so so important.
I, for one, can't wait for the next episodes (I've already binged the 3 on iPlayer - if you haven't yet what the hell are you waiting for?!), to see what's going to happen next for the daring dame that we have all loved for so long. All I ask is that they bring back some of the classics - Weedy Peter and Justine just weren't enough... Where's Crash? I want to know how the Wellards are doing! Is Elaine still a pain? They teased us with talking about Louise and Adele - give me more throwback characters!!
All the episodes of ALL possible television shows to do with Tracy Beaker, including the original and an episode of Blue Peter that Tracy Beaker took over are on BBC iPlayer - so now you know how you'll fill some more lockdown days: you are so welcome!