The Trouble With Girls – Three Girls and Three Babies Review: Bumpy Ride

August 10, 2009 by  
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THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS – THREE GIRLS AND THREE BABIES: Monday 10th August, BBC2, 9pm Alert Me

The transition from childhood to adulthood is a trial for all of us.

Your chances of coming out of the other side unscathed however are massively reduced when you are growing up in an environment so devoid of nurturing.

The second in a two-part series, The Trouble With Girls follows three friends from Rochdale over the course of a year, in which time there are three pregnancies within the group.

Once home to a thriving textile industry, since the last cotton mill closed in the 1980s unemployment in Rochdale has been high and teenage pregnancies are above the national average.

Friends since the age of five, Becki, Stacey and Vanessa turn 16 this year. We join them shortly after Becki gets pregnant at 15, and watch the trials that follow.

Becki’s pregnancy increasingly isolates her from the group as Stacey and Vanessa continue to party. Although they aren’t the most agreeable of people – they are teenagers after all – they do inspire some empathy.

They may express indifference towards pretty much everything (notably their impending GCSE exams) though this indifference does seem a little feigned. They are just bored, and angry at the few opportunities they have.

This anger is no more apparent than in Vanessa, often getting into fights to satisfy her hunger for trouble. The girls’ bleak situation is made ever bleaker by how passive their families appear to be. “I am sure I got the wrong child out of the hospital?, Vanessa’s mother says.

Becki contemplates what is in store for her as she prepares for her baby. Her 26-year-old boyfriend sits inert while she scours the newspapers and calls the agents for a flat in which to raise their child.

The documentary manages to scratch the surface and penetrate the front they put up. The girls are not just the “yobs? the town press brands them. They have ambitions; it seems their apathetic personas are defence mechanisms.

While The Trouble With Girls is grim at times, there are some revelatory moments. The arrival of Becki’s baby is a break in the clouds, inspiring some warmth in the group, and demanding the girls re-evaluate their lives.

It is these glimmers of determination that saves the programme from devolving into full-on grimness.

The off-screen interviewer however does tend to alienate the subjects of the film from its audience as opposed to the Theroux-style immersion technique of reporting. As if they weren’t alienated enough.

Meanwhile the powers that be need to sit up and take notice.

Leonie Mercedes

For more troublesome young ladies, read our review on Martina Cole: Girls in Gangs or check out the more recent Binge Drinking: My Big Decision

kb says:

Oh dear, its really worrying when a parent thinks that mock “GSC’s” are the real thing, and the child is proud of the fact they have a 37% attendance record at school. This thought provoking programme was very well filmed, showing the girls warts and all, but it does make you wonder about the future of these girls babies and the cycle that they will become trapped in.

CK says:

Something needs to be done. Kids cannot keep having kids if they have no future, homes, jobs or income. To tell the grandparents not to smoke around the baby should be common sense anyway but then as the mother smoked all the way through pregnancy and was seen smoking again after she said she was giving up is child abuse. If you can’t give a child a healthy body from the start then how can you give them other basics in life. This will be a vicious circle as uneducated people cannot educate their children in reading, health, etc and will therefore produce yet more chilren who are unemployed and pregnant.

Phillippa Biggs says:

I found this one of the most interesting and thoughtful programmes I have seen for a long time. I actually thought the producer managed to get across the charm of all three girls very well. As someone from a prosperous part of the South of England, I cannot relate at all to where these girls are growing up or and what they are going through. But it is scary that 2/3 of these girls wind up getting pregnant through not being organised enough to get condoms – not the best reason for launching into motherhood!

My congratulations to the production team for a really insightful programme on modern Britain.