Wednesday, January 04, 2006

TV You Need to See

In the last week, I've become quite a fan of a new -- as in, new to me -- TV show. It airs on BBC America, and it's called At Home with the Braithwaites.

The matron of a suburban family wins a $60 million lottery and doesn't tell anyone -- not even her husband. Meanwhile, while the family hovers above a safety net it's not even aware of, life goes on.

The father has an affair of sorts and leaves his job to escape his love interest. One daughter -- who has learned about her mom's newfound wealth -- gets a job and does little with the opportunity. The middle daughter, a nose-ringed teen, leaves school and home to move in with her working-class boyfriend. And a beefy newspaper reporter tracks down the fictional Jane Crowther, the head of a new charitable trust. This in just the two installments I've seen in recent days.

The program is a fascinating mix of family drama, comedy of errors, and society-driven mystery. (BBC actually categorizes the show under drama and mysteries.) And the characterizations and plot twists -- in just two episodes -- are what have captured my attention and interest. While the show could have easily followed the tropes of its precedents -- the fish out of water goofiness of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the happy-go-lucky cluelessness of Silver Spoons, the wealthier-than-thou entitlement of shows like Dallas, or the unrealistic life-changing stories of our financial fantasies -- it does not.

Instead, the series shows that money can only complicate already complicated lives. And that money can't buy you happiness. Or love. Or peace and quiet. Regardless, life goes on. That might be why organizations such as More Than Money exist.

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