Tulisa – My Mum & Me Review: I Need You
TULISA – MY MUM & ME: Tuesday 10th August, BBC3, 9pm ALERT ME
Tulisa Contostavlos is best known for her work with the pop group N-Dubz – a sub-par arrangement of ‘musicians’ who have a knack for writing incredibly middle of the road music. In a bid to generate some good karma for when she meets the man upstairs, Tulisa has made this fairly respectable documentary charting the largely untold story concerning British teenagers who are forced to sacrifice their childhoods in order to care for their mentally ill parents.
Tulisa candidly recounts her own experiences as a young woman looking after her mother who suffered from manic depression, a crippling disease of the mind that leaves sufferers unable to cope with daily life. The condition expresses itself in multiple and complicated ways: Tulisa’s mother experienced intense bouts of paranoia exacerbated by her delusional state of mind which would then often lead to violent and verbally abusive outbursts. Breaking under the pressure, Tulisa had, by the age of fifteen, dropped out of school, joined a gang and begun to self-harm, evident from the blood stained pages of her diary.
Tulisa interviews children across the UK as well as diving into her own past in order to explore the consequences of growing up under such challenging circumstances. Mia, an eloquent and good natured soul, lives with her mother who has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder rendering her incapable of looking after herself. As a result, Mia has stepped in and taken on the role despite having to also mind after her younger brother. During her mother’s worst period Mia was simultaneously bullied, having to deal with her parents’ divorce and chronically depressed herself, disappearing into fantasy fiction as a means of coping. What, Tulisa asks, happens to the children who fall below the radar and remain unnoticed as Mia had done for several years?
Whilst the questions are undeniably important and the programme appropriately sensitive for the most part, it is a shame that Tulisa could not tame the media-hungry-whore that dwells inside every celebrity as she resorts to several shameless plugs of her band. One suspects that N-Dubz are still desperate to be seen as child friendly following Dappy’s outrageous bullying of a member of the public via text message…despite campaigning at the time for an anti-bullying charity. The segment where Tulisa guides 15 year old Hannah to a youth centre is particularly convenient in this respect.
There are 80,000 young people currently living in the UK living in a similar, if not exact same, position to Tulisa. It’s a shocking statistic that raises an important question: is there enough being done to support these children?