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SilverStormm

The Victorian Slum

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On 5/3/2017 at 3:58 PM, Misslindsey said:

I did feel bad for the single mother. It seemed like the other people and families were making sacrifices regarding buying food, while she kept going back to the shop to get food even when she could not afford it. I am sure she wants to provide and not have her kids be hungry, but I was side eyeing her when she kept buying food. I figured she would not be able to pay for that or make rent. I was hoping her or her kids would find some sort of job besides making boxes.

I was just talking about that with someone earlier today.  I got the sense she wasn't as invested in the experience as some of the other families.  Yeah, she was participating, but like someone fully aware throughout that she was in no danger of herself or her children actually going hungry.  I just think some people are able to throw themselves into the situation more fully than others.

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This is an interesting show. I wonder how scripted/planned out it is as far as each family's trajectory through the experience. Like do some of the participants eventually have to become overwhelmed with the survival process and fail in their storyline at some point? (Tune in next week to find out, I guess)

The 3 generation family seemed to do well with everyone pitching in to make income and the adults giving up meals so the kids stayed fed. As was said above, a single mother would have a very bad time without a network of extended family to help and work together. She did make mistakes with overextending herself with the grocer along with having less family members to work together with her to earn money. If the reality is that she would have to turn to prostitution I hope the show addresses this at some point.

I appreciate that they included the man missing part of his leg to add that reality of how someone would have to figure out how to survive with a serious physical injury. It was sad that one way for him to make his extra money was the misfortune of others who would have to sleep in his doss house if they couldn't pay rent for the rooms he was managing for the landlord. The whole process of how people had to be creative to survive is intriguing.

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On 5/4/2017 at 9:43 AM, enoughcats said:

And a really vague rememberance of catching the final episodes of one set on one of the undeveloped in this century (previously inhabited) offshore islands.  

Was it Castaway?   I really enjoyed that one.  It was set on Taransay, a remote Scottish island.   

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castaway_2000

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Thank you MrPPuppy, I think that was it.  I hated that we only found it late in the fall and we knew we'd missed part of it, but back then there was no way to find the earlier episodes. 

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My favorite was Regency House Party. It was from Britain but it might not have been a BBC production. I enjoyed the activities in which they participated which reflected the emerging science of the time. And of course, there was the resident hermit who lived on the property and dispensed advice. It was English Country House porn at its best.

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I think one family in the 1940's house left early. (That is the only other full series that I have seen.) My mother couldn't bear to watch it because she remembered the hardships of the depression and war all to well. And I couldn't bear to watch Frontier House because it reminded me too much of the life of the rural poor which I had experienced.

BTW, during the war the meat drippings and fat were collected from the roast and left to congeal. They were spread on toast with a little salt for breakfast. Although I am mostly vegan today I can still remember that it tasted GOOOOD!

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Could you have been OCD back then? 

Funny, I was just thinking of this just a few minutes ago. Some children refuse to eat food that is touching a different food on the plate. That couldn't possibly have occurred in those times.

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I just stumbled across this show this afternoon. It was absolutely fascinating. I almost wish they spent two weeks in the same decade because I would be curious to see if the Rent Collector's modern sensibilities of helping out the single mom would wane after he realizes that it is costing him his meals. I'm slightly confused at how his income works. It sounded like if any of the renters ended up in the doss house he would get that money but is he getting a cut of the rent or does all of that go to the landlord and his pay is free rent? Because it sounded like he doesn't get any of the rent money and would have had more money to eat had he kicked Single Mom to the doss house.

I it incredibly sad to think this was life for some people. It is just relentless misery and I don't know how any of them ever made it out. I suppose it is mostly due to social changes to come but did the people who lived this life have any hope? Did they think their children would have better lives? I can't imagine how when even the grocers, who seemed to have the most steady income potential, had almost all their money go to rent. How did you save? How did you get your children an education to better themselves when they, too, are working.

I just feel like this is such an important show because there is so much we take for granted and really, the 1880s wasn't all that long ago. I think it's amazing that these people had this chance to walk in their ancestors footsteps. And I agree about the kids. What great kids these are that they are embracing this experience rather than complaining about the modern things they don't have.

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@Mabinogia, he gets no money from rent collection, just a place to stay for free.  He must find other employment for food, etc hence him making tool handles.  I admire his efforts to utlize another artificial limb that, while better than the period reality, is still nothing compared to his current day apparatus.   I did wonder about allowing the single mom to go without paying her rent or suggesting a smaller sum might impact his job as the rent collector.   Love all things period England and this show is fascinating!

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One debt, one injury or death away from ruin. Its bleak but that was life

Watching the first episode, I couldn't help but think about the evolution of social welfare and the necessity of subsidized programs. I fear we're headed toward the 1860s as safety nets are stripped away. Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is difficult when barefoot.

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4 hours ago, Mabinogia said:

It sounded like if any of the renters ended up in the doss house he would get that money but is he getting a cut of the rent or does all of that go to the landlord and his pay is free rent? Because it sounded like he doesn't get any of the rent money and would have had more money to eat had he kicked Single Mom to the doss house.

In reality, he wouldn't have had just the people on the show, to fill the doss house. 
 

1 hour ago, QQQQ said:

Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is difficult when barefoot.

That's a very good line.  If it's a quote, it isn't one I've come across.

Edited by auntjess
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I wasn't intending to quote anyone so my apologies if it's actually Mother Teresa, Jane Addams or Bono...I'm really not clever enough to have very original thoughts. I do think it would make for a catchy bumper sticker!

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I was just talking about that with someone earlier today.  I got the sense she wasn't as invested in the experience as some of the other families.  Yeah, she was participating, but like someone fully aware throughout that she was in no danger of herself or her children actually going hungry.  I just think some people are able to throw themselves into the situation more fully than others.

This first episode seemed to spend noticeably less air time on Shazeda and her two kids than any of the other participants. That might be because all they ever did was sit around in their room making boxes. But from what little we saw of her 21st century life, I sort of got the impression she might be just as unrealistic in real life as she was about the show - like maybe she doesn't think much about not being able to pay her bills or her rent because in real life she runs up incredible credit card debt and never pays it off. She might be kind of a flake - we didn't really get much of a reaction out of her when she couldn't pay her rent or when Andy gave her an extra two days.

I've read several articles about how producers cast these "House" shows and, unfortunately, they follow the same trend as most other reality shows. Instead of finding qualified participants who'd jump at the chance to have that experience, they're more interested in finding people who will make "good TV' because they are argumentative, or confrontational, or flighty, or odd, or whatever. 

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The single parent with the 2 kids didn't seem to try at all.

The editors cut her out because she was stoned faced the whole time...bad TV.

We probably didn't see her complaining with the producers about how hungry she and her kids were.

Why did she sign them up for a reality show knowing that going hungry and without comforts were a possibility?

She wanted to be on TV.

The cast chosen to participate always determines how enjoyable the shows are...this one is mixed.

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I thought they said that they would add more people in the neighborhood next week.  This show is great.  The doss house was shocking as was the fish that they cooked in the outhouse.  EEK!

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3 hours ago, humbleopinion said:

The cast chosen to participate always determines how enjoyable the shows are...this one is mixed.

She was the only one I didn't care for. The other families and rent guy all seem to have jumped in with both feet. The two girls getting so excited because they'd made enough to pay their rent after grandpa hurt his back was lovely to see. Rent guy even wanting to replace his high tech artificial leg with something more genuine was impressive. The tailors family seem so into the experience. She's the only one who seemed to not immerse herself in the experience. She knows that not paying her rent or her grocery bill doesn't matter because it's just a show, which makes her a lot less interesting to watch. I agree with the "why is she even there" question. Surely she could have found some other show to go on.

I do wish they would have touched more on the prostitution angle because that is what would have happened to her. A Victorian rent collector would not likely have been kind enough to give her an extension. He would have made her pay up and get out or work it off on her back. Not saying they should have had sex, just that they should have done some kind of voice over "and so she had to take to the streets to find men willing to pay to be with her in order to make ends meet". It's just distracting that technically she is the worst off, single mother of two, but just doesn't seem bothered by anything.

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6 hours ago, iMonrey said:

That might be because all they ever did was sit around in their room making boxes.

This would have been the reality of their life in a Victorian slum.  No play time for the kids, just make as many boxes as fast as they can.
And again, I think the ones who sold in the market had a great advantage over their 19th century counterparts, because they were a novelty--people filming a tv show--and people bought more, and probably didn't haggle over the price either.

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12 minutes ago, auntjess said:

I think the ones who sold in the market had a great advantage over their 19th century counterparts, because they were a novelty--people filming a tv show--and people bought more, and probably didn't haggle over the price either.

And no competition from all the other box makers, match makers, tailors, etc. I imagine in the real era the competition would have been fierce.

I always used to fantasize about living in the Victorian era because of the romanticized movie version of it. Even when the movie was about someone with no means it was still pretty romanticized. I think about something like the Little Princess, where I felt so terrible for her being made to sleep up in the attic. Now I think she was damned lucky not to have been kicked out onto the streets to become a match girl or scavenger or worse, child prostitute (I'm sure they had those). God what a terrible time to live if you weren't well off. (even then they still had to contend with dead horses in the streets and the stench of shit all the time and the mud, mixed with other things. This show has made me appreciate the world I live in. It might not be perfect, but I have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on and my fridge is filled with food. Guess I'm doing better than I thought.

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I watched all of Frontier House and an episode of Texas Ranch House this past week because they were the only ones I hadn't seen that were available (Colonial House was rented). Yes, I gave up on Ranch House after one episode, once I realized they wouldn't all get devoured by locusts. I think I'm spoiled by the BBC's living-in-the-past shows featuring clever people who have a good idea of what to do (anything with Ruth Goodman).

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14 hours ago, Mabinogia said:

And no competition from all the other box makers, match makers, tailors, etc. I imagine in the real era the competition would have been fierce.

 

The work is the hardest thing to simulate. As a modern day novelty it was easy to sell the clothes and water cress without any competition.

I've seen several additional episodes so I'll stop there to avoid spoilers.

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I am so glad there is a forum for this show! I was a fan of the 1940's House and Frontier House, so very happy and surprised when I noticed this while scanning through shows recently. I love the way this format brings history to life. I wish they would do a bunch more shows about different social groups, time periods, and locations. It just seems like such a great way to get a feel for what humans in those times actually went through.

Like others here, this episode left me feeling so appreciative of everything I take for granted.

I do wonder what sort of expectations these people held in terms of their lives. I hope the upcoming episodes reveal some of that.

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And again, I think the ones who sold in the market had a great advantage over their 19th century counterparts, because they were a novelty--people filming a tv show--and people bought more, and probably didn't haggle over the price either.

That was perhaps my one issue with the episode. Of course they were able to sell their wares at market because the buyers were all 21st century recruits intrigued by the concept and TV cameras. How much water cress and how many funny hats would they have sold in 1860? Enough to pay the rent and the grocery bill? Probably not. I know you can't really recreate the entire city and culture, but the narrator should have acknowledged the reality of the situation. Unfortunately, it would have meant doom and gloom for everyone, not just Shazeda.

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Single mom didn't seem to act with any urgency to make money either with the boxes or flowers. The one thing a show like this will never be able to simulate is the real pressure of living day to day. Just like in the other shows like this, being in the lowest class isn't any fun.

The tailor family is my favorite family. They seem to love learning what prior generations of tailors would have done and seem to be really hard workers.

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I'm surprised prostitution hasn't been mentioned yet. Really enjoying this series though. The Victorian attitude toward the poor was disgusting. Not Christian at all. 

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Well, this was interesting.
I assume Shazeda was only cast for 2 episodes, but I liked the realistic way she left, because she'd have had no other options.  Did her children do any of the flower making?  In reality they would both have, and weren't children better at some things because they had small fingers.
I never heard how much the Irish sister made, but was she plucking chickens for the store?  Maybe she was paid in food.



 

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I enjoyed Frontier House at the time, but quit on Colonial House.  Wasn't that the one where the woman refused to to go to church? 
Of course she has that right now, but had the time, she'd probably have gone to the stocks.
If you agree to do a period show, then you should follow the rules at the time, or ask to die of something and be written out.

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49 minutes ago, auntjess said:

I never heard how much the Irish sister made, but was she plucking chickens for the store?  Maybe she was paid in food.

I think her "pay" was that she was able to keep the feathers, which she later dyed and put on hats.

Does anyone know if they made any allowance for the children to eat regular meals, even if it's behind the scenes?  The adults signed up for it, the kids didn't.  

Edited by Quilt Fairy
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40 minutes ago, LittleIggy said:

I'm surprised prostitution hasn't been mentioned yet. Really enjoying this series though. The Victorian attitude toward the poor was disgusting. Not Christian at all. 

I was almost half seriously wondering when the single mother would go door to door asking if anyone wanted sex, like the men that went looking for day work, as that would probably be most realistic under her circumstances.  I know the show would probably not prefer to go that route even though they did mention that  many women resorted to prostitution under those circumstances.  But it was probably another realistic alternative for people to flee altogether as she did.

Speaking of the single mom, I think part of the reason she was checked out on immersing herself in the show might have been her children.  I got the feeling that behind the scenes they were constantly complaining, like the kid we heard in the beginning of the show saying that the conditions were "unlivable".  I can see that having kids she may have been averse to being depicted on TV as a prostitute so she may have been conflicted about the whole thing and just opted for leaving instead.

I haven't read up on the background of this show but the set where they are filming this kind of reminds me of the Tenement Museum in NY's Lower East Side, in which a genuine tenement from the late 1800s/early 1900s was restored to look much like it would have back in those times.  I took the tour several years ago and have read that it is very popular and has been expanded.  I would love to see a similar show done there about tenement life in old NYC.

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I knew nothing about this show except for a little blurb about it in Entertainment Weekly. I just watched the first 2 episodes back to back and I am loving it!

Poor Gramps and his aching back. I felt so bad for him when he went looking for work with the young Irish brother in the second episode and was turned away because the work was hard and he was too old. It was a good thing the rest of his family got work making artificial flowers in order to cover the rent and food.

The Jewish family was adorable and I absolutely loved their attitude. The mom crying in appreciation for what her ancestors lived through in order for her family to live the way they do now was a sweet moment. I also loved when they were taking a tour of the slums and the son said he loved it. Also, when he happily tried out the twopenny hanger. I laughed when the daughter's hair looked like a bird's nest by the end of the second episode. No shampoo and conditioner for you, young lady! I'm so glad all the kids seem really into the experience and aren't a bunch of whiners. 

Shazeda, on the other hand, certainly looked like she was not into the experience. She looked unhappy almost from the first moment she appeared on camera, and it showed in her shoddy and slow efforts at making fancy boxes and later the artificial flowers with her neighbors. I was glad when the grandmother told her that she was not going to get paid what they initially agreed to because she (Shaz) was not producing as many flowers as the rest of them. It was damn time someone put their foot down with her and what I saw as her taking advantage of people's kindness. In the second episode when the narrator said that someone like Shazeda would have had one more option, I was sure he was going to say prostitution; especially when the camera showed her standing over her sleeping kids looking like she was about to head out into the night (which would've taken PBS to a whole new level). I then LMAO when I realized she and the kids were actually making a run for it. Definitely won't miss her.

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Appreciate how the brother took caring for his sister his top priority, letting her have the coffin bed while he slept sitting up o the rope.

  Showing Grandad and the young Irish man looking for work  together drove home the history lesson that the newcomers don't take jobs away from those before them but get the job because they are more able bodied...cold economics.

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I'm so glad Shaz is gone. She just didn't seem to actually want this experience. The others, (I mean, my god the grandfather could have done serious damage working on that bell!), are all in and making the most of the experience and learning and actually seem appreciative to have this experience. I was really touched when the gran got to go to the graveyard and learned about her great aunt and uncle who died as babies.

It was nice to see them all talking and eating at the end. For as horrible as the 1870s were they all seemed to pull together and come out of it pretty well (considering). People were paying off their tic, they all seemed to scrape together rent, the siblings got a room! Well, except Shaz, but she wasn't even trying.

It was nice that someone finally used the doss house so poor Rent Guy could finally get some money.

What is so interesting is how the work is coming in. Skilled worker the tailor seems to be getting more work than he can handle, while the old man has to walk the streets practically begging for work. The Irish girl was resourceful and plucked chickens for nothing more than the feathers, but turned those feathers into hats she could sell. It is amazing how resourceful people can be when put in such dire situations. Even the tailors wife coming and asking for paid workers. They are really pulling together into a sort of little community.

Can't wait to see what next decade brings.

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I'm glad that Shazeda is gone because I never got the impression that she was committed to the experience.  She might have thought it would be fun to be on television and, like so many people, had a romanticized version of life in Victorian England.  It wasn't a bunch of people sitting around sipping tea and saying they 'were not amused', and singing 'Consider yourself at home'.  It was a cold, hard, filthy, miserable life for most.  

It was heartbreaking to watch the grandfather walk the streets looking for work so he could contribute to feeding his family.  He seemed like he was a bit of an 'alpha male' who has definite ideas about what a man's role is.  It must have been humiliating for him when the lumber yard picked the young Irish guy who had just arrived. 

The Irish brother and sister got a quick wake-up call about life in Victorian London.  But they were still lucky because even though they had to sleep in the doss house, at least they were the only ones there.  I can imagine that it must have been worse to be there when it was full of dirty, desperate people sleeping in shifts.

It was gratifying to see the families fill their orders and make enough money to pay their rent and their 'tick'.  However, there wasn't much time for celebrating.  As one of the mothers said, they just had to start all over again in the morning.  What a hopeless life those people led.

I love this show. 

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2 hours ago, mightysparrow said:

As one of the mothers said, they just had to start all over again in the morning.  What a hopeless life those people led.

Yes. I think the most shocking part, probably for them as well as me watching, is the relentlessness of it. All they have time for is work. They work every day just for enough food to get through the day and hopefully save for the rent and then they have to work again the next day for enough food to get through the day and so on. Like one of the mom's said, the children had no opportunity to better themselves in the hopes of escaping the cycle. That was their lives, work, hopefully eat, sleep and do it all again. I'm amazed, quite honestly, that the real slum dwellers had the energy to have enough sex to even have children.

It was sad to hear how unvalued a single mother was. Forced to wear yellow! WTF? Like some badge of shame. Unless he died, the father should be the one shamed for leaving his family to fend for themselves. Most, though, probably did what Shaz did and just up and disappeared one night when they realized they couldn't pay their bills. At least she took her kids with her.

I can't wait to see how and why things improve.

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Most, though, probably did what Shaz did and just up and disappeared one night when they realized they couldn't pay their bills. At least she took her kids with her.

I thought it was nice of her not to wait until her kids had collected their wages from the tailor.  That left more for those that were staying on and paying the shop keeper.

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36 minutes ago, QuinnM said:

I thought it was nice of her not to wait until her kids had collected their wages from the tailor.  That left more for those that were staying on and paying the shop keeper.

But she ended up leaving the shopkeepers having to write off the £4.10 she still owed them, which left them struggling to pay their rent. The least she could have done when she made a run for it was leave behind whatever money she had in order to pay off some of her tick since she was basically leaving the show and wouldn't need the money.

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The whole point was to sneak away before anyone knew.
She did get a bit of an advance there at one point.
And I think Shazeda is gone because that was her role, and if she seemed not invested, that was how she was supposed to play it.

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Agreed, the script was for her to leave and the brother and sister take her room.

The women are the heroes... chained to their lodging to care for the children, doing piece work with deadlines , cleaning, cooking and then participating in sexy time inches from their kids...

Wonder if any of the married couples other than the shop keepers had sex during the shooting...doubtful..too many ears

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there is your picture sleeping on ropes

I wonder if this is the origin of the phrase 'dead on your feet'.

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Is that Irish chick kidding with the eye makeup

false eyelashes?? You're not a movie star, pumpkin', you're supposed to be living like it's 1870

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On 5/4/2017 at 11:10 PM, mightysparrow said:

I'm glad this forum is here. 

I wasn't surprised by the conditions because I have a BA in history and Victorian London was one of my majors.  It was HORRIBLE.  TV and movies have prettied that period up (looking at you Masterpiece Theatre) but Charles Dickens wasn't making stuff up.

I was a bit annoyed at the single mother.  The other families were doing whatever they could to survive and it seemed like she (and her kids) were pretty casual about what was really a life and death situation.  It seemed that she didn't put much effort into making her boxes; she just expected to get more and more food on credit with no idea how she was going to pay for it, which put other people in the position of either being cruel or short-changing themselves to carry her.  The reality is that a single woman with two children was incredibly vulnerable in Victorian London.  A woman without a man to defend her was considered fair game for any predator.  Not only would she have been forced into prostitution but her children probably would have as well.

 

I feel the same about Shazz. I definitely got the vibe that she's accustomed to having someone come to her rescue. 

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auntjess, I agree with you that I think Shaz was instructed to play the part with the understanding that she'd "flit" in the night.  I don't know this for sure, but part of me thinks each of the cast were given a dossier on their "character" with some loose guidelines for how they were to behave and interact with the other participants. Parts of how the other characters act is left out so they can react more naturally. In any case I am glad she and her kids are gone. 

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1 hour ago, seahag50 said:

there is your picture sleeping on ropes

The one in the doss house had a bench.,  This one is dreadful.  I assume people paid for that.

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In that picture of "sleeping on the ropes," I wonder why anyone would choose that vs. stretching out on the floor? Sleeping on dirty straw wouldn't be any worse than dangling from a rope and still on your feet.

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The floor of the doss is covered with a slimy layer of yuck...  animal and human feces, trash,  dirt, soot, wet, cold sludge from city life.

Rope  sleeping ...think of it as aerial yoga for the unfortunate...

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29 minutes ago, Glaze Crazy said:

In that picture of "sleeping on the ropes," I wonder why anyone would choose that vs. stretching out on the floor? Sleeping on dirty straw wouldn't be any worse than dangling from a rope and still on your feet.

I believe the "coffin bed" cost more than hanging over the rope for the night, so for some desperate people, the rope was the only option other than sleeping on the streets.  I think they said that real "doss houses" were jam packed and coffin beds were rented out in 8 hour shifts.  The bench & rope set ups were also packed in shoulder to shoulder, so no cheating by stretching out on the bench versus hanging over the rope!

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Just finished watching the second episode.  Even if Shaz's role was to leave in the middle of the night she could have perhaps tried to put forth a better appearance of caring.  I think it would have made her more sympathetic, which I feel like was the role she was supposed to play.  That we were supposed to be outraged at the obstacles facing a single mother.  But then she got a kipper while the other families were scraping by with some bread and cheese.  It just seemed like she didn't care much at all about paying or rent or her tick so it was hard to really feel that bad when she was forced to leave.  I also think prostitution should have been mentioned.  It could have just been a small note of another option we obviously didn't need her actually wandering around offering up her body.  

I felt like other people really seemed more invested in everything.  The tailor's children seemed to be really spending most of their days working not just playing around.  I do think they had the advantage of being a novelty so their wares sold easier but they also are trying to adjust to Victorian life.  In reality the tailor would have been used to hand sewing everything and his wife and children would have been assisting him for many years not needing so much training.  The older gentleman would have been more used to a day of physical labor (not sure if this would have helped or if it would have aged him and physical labor wouldn't have even been an option for him anymore).  And Shaz along with the other women would have been doing piece work for years and had a system down.  They also would all have been used to subsiding on less food, which I imagine was a difficult adjustment for the participants.  

I'm not sure if at this point a NY version is exactly like this one is necessary.  However I think a factory one would be incredibly interesting.  Perhaps call it "Boarding House" and have it be a boarding house for young women who all work at a shirtwaist or similar factory.  Honestly I'll watch any of these House programs since I find them intriguing.  Manor House being my absolute favorite and Regency House and Texas Ranch House being my least favorites.  

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I feel like this show hasn't been as gritty as some other house programs.  I remember in most of the other ones the grossness of a chamber pot being discussed and on this show there is an outhouse that probably is offering up all sorts of smells for the courtyard and I don't feel like it's been discussed.  I mean they show the dirt, mud and stuff but I feel like besides a few complaints about the mud the participants haven't been really going on about it.  For instance has anyone talked about bathing (or lack there of)?  And we haven't seen any rodents, which I suppose it would have been wrong to unleash a bunch for entertainment value but I feel like that would have been a part of Slum life and it's been left out.  Perhaps it could at least get a mention?  I do like the cracks in the windows and doors.  That really helps get the point across of what situation the participants are living in.  

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I really love this show.  I wish there were more episodes.  Cannot stand Shaz (is that her name?)

She was a horrible fit for the series and I'm glad she's now slunk off into the night after only two episodes.

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