Soapbox’s Katy explains why she’s just not buying the latest shock to rock the Carter family
So soap’s current worst kept secret is finally out as it was revealed last night that Mick Carter IS newbie Frankie’s dad. And while we were all scratching our heads, doing some questionable maths and bearing in mind that Mick and Linda have been together since they were 14, the horrible truth became clear.
Mick (the always wonderful and soon to be granddad, Danny Dyer) reeled with shock when Frankie (Rose Ayling-Ellis) announced her mum was a woman called Katy Lewis. While Mick’s sister/aunt Tina bubbled with joy at the mention of Katy, who helped look after them while they were in care as kids, Mick looked like he’d seen a ghost. A full two weeks before Halloween.
And it soon became clear why. Tina joked that she wasn’t as close to Katy as Mick, who was just 12 at the time. Frankie then fled mortified, while distraught Mick raced after her, trying to explain it ain’t how it seems.
So it turns out that Mick, backbone of the once all powerful Carter clan, was abused as a pre-adolescent. Okay. I have many issues with this storyline.
With no offence to all actors involved (they all smashed it tonight and will no doubt continue to do so) the storyline a) sucks and b) makes no sense.
I’ll explain. It sucks because it is now not an important and taboo topic. It’s being used as a cheap way to make storylines for the Carters who have been treading stagnant soap water since leaving The Vic. Yes, it was an important topic when Emmerdale tackled it with Aaron Dingle, and also when Corrie followed suit with Paul Forman. Okay, in EE’s defence, both of these characters were abused by men and ‘Enders wants to highlight the fact that women can abuse too, but it just doesn’t fit with Mick.
Mick, who has been with his wife for 26 years. Mick, who tearfully confessed to Linda when he kissed – just kissed – Whitney. Mick who supported Linda when she told him she’d been raped by Mick’s brother, Dean. The couple have been through so much together that it’s actually not believable that Mick wouldn’t have told Linda about his abuse. In fact if anything it undermines the strength of their relationship. They’ve faced cancer, autism, accusations of affairs, rape, a surprise ‘I’m your mum’ reveal, THAT pink dressing gown along with many other issues I’ve no doubt forgotten, so why would Mick never tell Linda about his abuse?
I love the Carters (apart from Tina who has no real purpose apart from token lesbian now) and I will defend them on the same way Martin Fowler defends his family (shhhh! It worked when this was written) but I just can’t get behind this storyline. It’s not breaking barriers, it’s not making a social issue topical. It’s cheapening the carefully constructed back story between Mick and Linda for nothing more than a grab at some bigger viewing figures during a difficult year.
Soapbox Extra: Five things we loved in last week’s EastEnders
Yes, 2020 has been awful for most of us, but it doesn’t mean our shows can start rewriting or even gently tweaking the history of our most beloved characters. Historical sexual abuse is a devastating topic that I know EastEnders writers have worked hard on alongside charities to portray in a believable manner. Which is excellent.
But please don’t forget the history of your characters while you’re tackling the big and headline grabbing stories.
EastEnders is on BBC1 tonight at 7.35pm