Feature | Cherry Healey’s How to Get a Life would be brilliant, if it were completely different…

Cherry Healey, the woman behind BBC3’s new lifestyle show How to Get a Life, is on a mission to catch up with the world, life’s fundamental questions, and whether she needs to wax her arm hair. As such, each week she tackles a pressing subject; this week it was whether your looks can change your life. In each hour-long episode, she meets up with various weird and wonderful people that fit in with each topic, and follows them around for a day or week.

Sounds good? Well, it really would be, had Healey and BBC3 thought about the finished product. Rarely does she reach any kind of conclusion or revelation, and most guests are greeted with disdain and judgement from the more-average-than-thou presenter. As a paranoid, hypochondriac, female, home-based journalist, I guess that I’m the target audience for the series, as with most of BBC3’s output, and I eagerly tune in each week with the hope of life’s fundamental questions actually being answered.

What I get instead is a surface skimming so vague and light-weight that it never really peaks behind the curtain of society it so desperately runs towards. Slimming tablets, tanning, and settling down are all presented as fair game but, surprise surprise, we’re left with whatever conservative message that’s applicable to the current episode. Of course you can be free and single, until you meet a man; you shouldn’t put yourself in danger to lose weight, but still have to be thin.

A typical statement after meeting some of the subject goes like: “I completely understand, but…” There’s nothing sympathetic or understanding about alternative lifestyles and, while there’s something commendable about putting these fascinating people on mainstream television, when they’re presented as different from Healey herself, they appear too strange. It might not be intentional, but our presented is held up as normal, healthy womanhood – wife, mother, hairless, slim – and everything else looks ‘wrong’ in contrast.

Like flicking through the pages of a magazine, or flashing through the channels, we get a taste of what Healey is hoping to do, but never the meat of the story.

Caroline Preece

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2 thoughts on “Feature | Cherry Healey’s How to Get a Life would be brilliant, if it were completely different…

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is thinking these things while watching!!! It has slightly annoyed me in all her series how neutral she is about everything and how at the end each show she always seems to still think the same things that she did at the start..! I agree with the bit about how everyone else on the show seems strange and extreme when compared to Cherry. I only really watch her documentaries because I find her “interrogating” them and observing their experiences quite entertaining.
    Anyway, loved your review, its nice to read some reviews of the shows that i actually watch.. haha 🙂

    • Thanks Jen, that’s great that we agree. I actually enjoy watching the series for the same reason, as there’s little gems of insight apart from the neutral stance and wishy washy opinions.

      We’re aiming to cover the shows that others don’t, so be sure to let us know what you’d like reviewed in the future. We’re writing for you, after all 🙂 C x

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