The Family Series 2Last night I saw the second installment of Channel 4’s docu-drama The Family with this years subjects being the Grewal family.

Hailing from Windsor, the Grewals are the first Asian family to welcome cameras into their home for the nation to see. There were a total of 28 cameras installed in their house and last night viewers were invited into the funny, heartwarming, and at times tragic life story the Grewal clan.

From the beginning we were introduced to the elders of the house – mum and dad, Arvinder Singh Grewal and his wife Sarbjit. Also known as Polly, Sarbjit recalled of the first time she met Arvinder- in a registry office. She saw him as “very handsome, because he had his own hair.” Meanwhile her husband remembered her as a “very pretty girl. Young and slim. Not like today.”

The couple have been married for 35 years and despite the occasional bickering it emerges that they really do support each other. “She is a loving person,” Arvinder says on his wife. “She’s the only one who’s going to cook for me.”

Another couple who reside with them are 33-year-old Sunny, the eldest son, and his wife 24-year-old Shay. Although happily in love their relationship has come at a price. Because of her mother’s disapproval in the match Shay has had to take up residence with her in-laws.

It is this back-story that will garner the most sympathy throughout the series as from the first episode we hear of the ex-communication that Shay has been dealt with. When talking to a friend on the phone Shay comments wryly on her mother, “She’d probably turn up with a big, fat knife.”

The meeting between her brother for an invitation to their traditional Sikh wedding turned out to be disappointing.

Sarbjit later revealed that the reason for the rift was due to their family’s position. In the eyes of Shay’s family, the Grewals are a family of farmers – incompatible with their carpenter family.

In a true act of compassion Shay recalls the time where the usually languid Arvinder turned hero when he visited her family and defended his daughter-in-law. Despite being a traditionalist he has understood that times have changed.

In a tearful interview Shay reiterates what Arvinder said on the occasion: “We came here to give (Shay) back to you, but now we will take her with us.”

All in all the family seem to be wholesome and more at ease with each other in contrast to the teenage-tantrum example of last year. The Daily Mail’s Weekend quoted that Arvinder and Sarbjit could become “the funniest marital double act since George and Mildred in the 1970s TV sitcom.”

Meanwhile the Metro feels that this fly-on-the-wall series seems a bit quiet. But there is much interest shown on the comical aspect and also family disputes. Today’s edition reports that apart from the exchanges of teasing between the elders “the main storyline of this real-life narrative is provided by daughter-in-law Shay’s rift with her mother…Shay is striving to heel the rift.”

With the plans of an exotic wedding in progress it might be the start of compulsive viewing.

Tune in to Channel 4 every Wednesday at 9pm.

05/11/09

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