EastEnders: Taylors of Albert Square 

…I found [the Taylors] entertaining. They were actually a breath of new air. @BovarysComplnt

The Taylors arrived on EastEnders (EE) last month, and as promised, they’ve raised hell (and many eyes) in Albert Square. The above quote was my first response after their premiere. When I say “new air” I meant that their presence changed the tone of the episode. It moved at a quicker pace and there was a little more humor (my opinion). In fact, since their first appearance, a lot has happened including Friday’s (07.07.17) controversial duff duff which implied incest:

Is Keanu really the father of Bernadette’s baby!

(Personally, I don’t think it’s Keanu’s baby. If it is, then he isn’t blood related.) Of course before Friday’s episode, the Taylors had already created social media buzz:

Are the Taylors an offensive stereotype? Do they misrepresent people who receive benefits? Should the family be taken seriously or viewed as clowns?

In a Soap that has covered rape, racism, petty crime, murder, child sexual abuse and grooming, domestic violence, AIDS, abortion, and unemployment, I’m surprised that the Taylor family has received such strong criticism. Most of it focuses on the family promoting negative stereotypes.

I could focus on the Taylors as a negative stereotype. However, then I would have to address the past and current political climates in the UK as well. That’s not happening. I’m in the USA, and you know what we’re dealing with over here. Besides, I find the Taylor family entertaining and a pleasant distraction from current events.

Taylors: Entertainment and Reflection

So, back to the entertainment. I have enjoyed Karen Taylor’s (Lorraine Stanley) interactions with the Albert Square residents. We’ve seen Karen’s sassiness, honesty, and humor. We’ve also seen the other characters’ biases and hypocrisy. The residents who have a checkered past, appear to be the most opinionated about Karen and her family. A few moments come to mind:

Karen and Denise: Denise Fox (Diane Parish) made the first move to meet Karen when she arrived in the square. Denise was the one who had “assaulted” Karen’s son, Keegan Baker (Zack Morris). At the end of their conversation, Karen pointed out that “everyone has a record.” Appropriate since Denise has one for her run-in with Keegan. My thoughts:

We spent months watching Denise starve, eat out of bins, apply for benefits, and anguish over visiting a food bank. She was at her lowest. Now that Denise is employed and eating again, she’s ready to comment about how Karen raises her kids. Wouldn’t she have an ounce of compassion for Karen and her family after that experience? Shouldn’t Denise be more humble and understanding?

Karen and Ian: Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) can be tough on any day (God Bless Jane). So, you know he didn’t hold back when Karen came to him for a job. Ian was very quick to give his views about people on assistance and their drain on society. Karen responded by telling Ian he didn’t really know her. When she started working for him (thanks to Jane), he commented about her feral kids, and how they couldn’t speak at home because she talked too much. Well, I guess Ian would know about quality parenting:

Feral Kids? Ian who has a young son in jail for killing his daughter, and a son losing his mind at home, talks about Karen’s parenting? Ian whose son (the one losing his mind) kidnapped him and shot his wife Jane Beale (Laurie Brett) Ian who had gone through bankruptcy and at one point slept rough, looks down on Karen? I don’t expect Ian to be compassionate or understanding, but could he be a little less hypocritical?

Taylors, Michelle Fowler, and Arthur Fowler’s Bench: This wasn’t an actual exchange between Karen and Michelle (Jenna Russell). However, one will probably happen soon. This moment was between Michelle and Bernadette Taylor (Clair Norris) in the square. Bernadette was carving her initials into Michelle’s father’s bench. Michelle chased her away shouting the usual words: bad upbringing, low class, etc. By the end of the episode, the bench had been stolen. (I don’t condone defacing or stealing memorial benches in real life. However, on a Soap, I did laugh as they carried the bench across the square.) So, where to start with Michelle:

Since Michelle has returned to Walford, she has been below reproach. She’s a former U.S. teacher who had an affair with her 17 year old student (technically child sexual abuse). Once he followed her to the UK, she continued the affair. Michelle almost killed her aunt and neighbour when she ran into her cousin’s Chip Shop. She received little consequence for her actions. Looking back at her past, she was an unwed mother as a teen (best friend’s father) and slept with her best friend’s husband. So, Michelle doesn’t have a self-righteous leg to stand on.

Taylors: The Future

Now that Executive Producer (EP) Sean O’Connor has left abruptly (or been fired), there are a lot of unknowns about the current cast. The acting EP, John Yorke, has quite a bit to sort out. I hope Yorke doesn’t cut the Taylor family because I believe they can continue to fit into the fabric of EE.

In spite of social media criticism, the Taylors represent someone’s family in the real world. (I know I have some in my family.) If Yorke chooses to remove them, I still believe they had an important impact on the show. The Albert Square residents are not perfect. I believe the Taylors are a constant reminder of that imperfection. Every resident who passes judgment on the Taylors has a past event or backstory equally worthy of judgment. So, social media criticisms and stereotype worries aside, I have found the Taylor family entertaining and a welcome addition to EastEnders.

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