Lord Of The Flies

channel … Lord …

Lord Of The Flies-like show

Bleach was consumed at one point. That should give you an idea. The show was extremely controversial, with much criticism directed to its format, health and safety concerns, the harsh and unsanitary conditions the kids were subjected to, and the stress they were put under. The producer even acknowledged that Kid Nation would inevitably share some similarity with Lord of the Flies. You know, that story about a group of schoolkids who get stranded on an island and become little better than animals? A situation you should *not* try to emulate! But unfortunately there will always be greedy cynical producers willing to manufacture this kind of dumpster fire for views and money. Because there was - in fact - a British TV show that was similar to Kid Nation. And it was arguably even worse. It was called Boys & Girls Alone, and it aired for 4 episodes on Channel 4 in February 2009, two years after Kid Nation.

20 children aged between 8 and 11 spent two weeks living in houses divided by gender. They were given tasks to complete, which involved organising and budgeting for themselves, but were pretty much left entirely without adult guidance. The kids were mic’d up and their parents could watch everything that was happening through CCTV, and there were trained chaperones who could intervene if necessary.

Now, shockingly, it was a disaster.

The boys struggled to cook the food in the house and became hungry and homesick, with one boy leaving because of it. One boy couldn’t work out how to plug a kettle in, so he made Pot Noodle using cold tap water, while another boy grated cheese over still-frozen chips. Gordon Ramsey would have an aneurysm. So they resorted to eating sweets and sugary drinks, which of course made them agitated.

On at least one occasion, there was full-on fight between two of the boys, which Channel 4 thought was a good idea to show off in the trailer. And in an unaired scene, one boy pointed a dinner knife at another. While the girls didn’t physically fight as much as the boys did, they did form rival gangs and became verbally aggressive. In both houses, some of the kids were bullied by the others and were visibly distressed. Then during the final day, the girls were forced to move in with the boys, and that went about as well as you’d expect. But worse, at least two of the girls smoked on camera. I couldn’t confirm whether the cigarettes were real or joke ones, but either the crew were party to something blatantly illegal and unhealthy, or they were baiting the public, which is also messed up. They labelled it a social experiment, but it was essentially exploiting children for views.

And blaming *them* for their parents not raising them properly. Listen to how f*cking harsh this narration is! NARRATOR: “Or have we created a nation of cotton wool kids?”. Yeah, man up, you little wussy! (s) My god…. Understandably, some of these kids got pretty screwed up. Channel 4 insisted they’d done nothing wrong, and that the proper safeguards were in place, but you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t take their word for it. While defending the show, a spokesman said “It is a bit like Lord Of The Flies… but there is no murdering.”. Yeah, okay. There is no murdering.

I will give you that! And their head of factual entertainment insisted that: “All the children were carefully chosen and screened by appropriately qualified experts, including a clinical psychologist, to make sure they could cope well with the experience of being in the series.”. WELL, GOOD JOB! As you can imagine, the show caused quite a stir. Even before it had finished airing, there were calls for the remaining episodes to be pulled, with dozens of experts signing a letter asking Channel 4 to axe the show. OFCOM, the UK’s broadcasting regulator, received over 180 complaints relating to child cruelty, including from charities such as the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). Social Services also wrote to Ofcom and Channel 4, and even threatened to seek a court injunction to prevent the rest of the series from being broadcast. Although as far as I’m aware, they didn’t follow through with this. The show even prompted the UK government to review existing child employment laws! You know you f*cked up when the government takes notice of your schenanigans! OFCOM did investigate, and although they cleared Channel 4 of child cruelty, they *did* find them guilty of not making it clear to the audience that enough safeguards were in place.

“It is clear to Ofcom that in reality the likely risks to the children were in most cases negligible ”.

IN *MOST* CASES?! But unfortunately, as it usually does, playing the controversy card worked, with the first episode of Boy and Girls Alone being watched by 2.4 million people! I feel like that says more about human nature than anything that happened in the show. There’s the real social experiment. You may have noticed that I haven’t used many clips, and that’s because, as much as I would like to show you more…. I can’t…. because it doesn’t exist anymore.

I wasn’t able to find the episodes

Of boys and girls alone anywhere.

Not even in that place that we’re

Not supposed to talk about except maybe in sweden.

Even the show’s website is now offline, and all that remains are a few snippets.

For all intents and purposes, the show is lost to us. Maybe it’s due to an injunction or legal action that means that the show can’t be broadcast again. Or maybe Channel 4 simply decided it wasn’t worth the controversy or risk, and yeeted it from existence. And to be honest, I think that’s a good thing. That could have been where this article ended. But as it turns out, Boys and Girls Alone was actually inspired by an earlier series. Which *is* still available. And while it’s not *as* bad it’s still pretty bad.

Boys & Girls Alone was based on two episodes of a long-running documentary series - also on Channel 4 - called Cutting Edge, which focused on exploring various social and political issues. Unsurprisingly, these episodes were entitled ‘Boys Alone’ and ‘Girls Alone’. Clearly some big brains were at work in the naming departments. The premise was fairly similar. Take 10 boys and separately 10 girls, all aged between 11 and 12, none of whom had met before, put them in a house full of food, toys and games, and let them do whatever they want for 5 days. The film crew was ordered not to speak to the children and to only intervene for safety reasons. There was a child psychologist in the house they could talk to if they needed, the parents were able to watch a live feed of the events, and the kids could leave at any time. Considering all the messed up things that happen in these two episodes, it wasn’t anywhere near as controversial as the later series.

Channel 4’s more brazen marketing of the latter may have had something to do with that. Let’s start with the boys. Pretty soon after they arrive in the house, they start going nuts. It’s evident that they were trying to provoke the adults and push the limits of what they could get away, as the narrator acknowledges. “But soon, everybody was trashing the place. As if to see what it would take to make an adult intervene.”. By the evening, they realise how badly they’ve trashed the place and start to regret it. Although their attempts to clean up don’t go particularly well.

They do elect a leader to try to create some semblance of order, but it doesn’t last long. They did complete a cooking course before they entered the house, but all that goes out the window. As they rely on sweets, soft drinks, and easy-to-prepare stuff like instant noodles. Eventually hunger drives them into the kitchen, but their attempts to cook are pitiful. The most assertive boys decide to organise a communal meal at one point. And although a tea towel catches fire and food get dropped on the floor, by some miracle, dinner actually gets served. Although conflicts over dominance manifest in arguments over the seating order. Every night, the boys stay up until the early hours of the morning, and by the second evening the poor diet and lack of sleep have started to take their toll.

As they all become tired and irritable and some of them already start to feel homesick.

One boy, clearly gets hurt at one

Point, but the crew doesn’t get involved.

Another boy, Sim gets harassed by some of the others as he tries to sleep in a tent outside. They’re pretty mean to Sim in particular, peer-pressuring him into doing all of the cleaning and washing up, even though he’s not the one who made the mess. Playing in the paddling pool outside is the closest any of them come to showering or washing their clothes. By the evening of the third day, the group has split into two gangs. The quieter boys in one bedroom, and the louder boys in the other. And at this point, several of the boys are openly looking forward to going home.

"Are you looking forward to going?" "Yeah, no." "I don't mind." "Just a bit maybe.". The boys continue to play rough and almost everything in the house has been smashed or destroyed. One of the boys, Michael, gets most of the blame, and does seem to be the cause of a lot of issues. But his increasingly weird behaviour is disturbing and really should have raised some alarm bells. *Michael screaming*. Imagine being the neighbours through all this. Jesus…. Frustrated with Michael, the boys lock him in a room, and then tie him to a chair in the garden.

And by day four, they’ve had enough of him, wishing they could kick him out and even talking about beating him up. "Wait 'til just before we leave, and beat him up!". Before things get worse, they decide to talk things through with the child psychologist, initially blaming Michael for all the damage, but eventually they realise that he’s not the only one to blame. And the psychologist suggests that they try to work together more as a group. An upset Michael refuses to get out of bed, so efforts to organise a group game break down and they go hunting for hedgehogs in the garden. They find one and start throwing stuff at it, and this is the one and only time the film crew decided to intervene. But only after filming it for a bit, of course. The boys continue to run amok throughout the day.

The quieter boys try to have an early night, but the louder gang try their hardest to keep them awake. So on the morning of the fifth day, the “quieter” boys get up early and wake them up in revenge. And so an all out war erupts between the two bedrooms. Emotions are running high and nerved are frayed. One of the quieter boys is obviously distressed, but refuses to call the adults for help. Some of the boys want to leave early, but none of them do, probably because they don’t want to be seen as weak. Bored out of their minds and waiting for it to be over, the boys decide to spend the final day trashing the place as much as possible. The following morning, they’re reunited with their parents, some of whom are rightfully disappointed in their sprogletts and horrified at the mess they’ve made.

Imagine having to clean all this up, holy sh*t…. Don’t even try! Just foreclose on that house and burn it to the ground! But what about the girls? Well, if you’re expecting sunshine and rainbows… don’t. The same house is used again for the girls.

I’m guessing it took the entire year

To get it back to normal.

While they do run a bit wild

And make a mess, they clear it up fairly quickly and to a much higher standard than the boys.

And when they paint the walls, it’s more for decoration than to try to fuck shit up to provoke a reaction from the crew. They soon have their first sit-down group meal, although to say they always outcook the boys would not be entirely accurate. Throughout the week, they do some fairly predictable stuff like organising a fashion show, having a pretend beauty salon and holding a talent contest.

But of course it’s not all nice. When a cat wanders into the house, the girls starting shrieking loudly and chasing it. One girl, Justine, takes it upstairs and refuses to let it go. At this point, the film crew really should have intervened. God knows why they didn’t! The thing is clearly scared shitless! Eventually it gets pissed off and seizes the chance to escape the house. This incident exacerbates the tension that’s already started to build. It doesn’t even take an entire day for war to break out between the two bedrooms. I’m not gonna show this, for fairly obvious reasons, but during this debacle, one of the girls gets her hand caught in a slammed door.

And she’s quite obviously in pain. But again - as far as we know - the crew doesn't intervene. This is the second time they should have done that, and it's only the first day! But hey, it makes good television, right?! You c*nts. The next morning, the girls are too lazy to clear the table, so they eat on the floor instead. They organise a cooking and cleaning rota, which very quickly gets ignored. One girl, Sharday, has established herself as contentious and causes a lot of issues in the house. As the other girls try to sleep, she does her damndest to keep them up into the early hours of the morning. Sherry, who was responsible for cooking the group meal and leading the cleaning efforts, gets hit in the eye during the crossfire of a water pistol fight.

She’s also feeling bad after another girl called her useless. Efforts to console her don’t go particularly well, and for the rest of her time in the house, she keeps to herself. Eventually she decides to go home, and I don’t really blame her. And while some of the girls get upset over her departure, Sharday locks herself in the bathroom. It’s unclear how long she’s in there, but she writes a very depressing note that any adult observing should have been very concerned about. “‘And I feel so awful, I don’t care about what happens to me.’” “What is the matter?! Are you suicidal?”. Because there’s no toilet in there, she eventually has to come out. Even if she was only doing this for attention or sympathy, if a child locks themselves in a room for that long and writes that kind of note, an adult should really intervene at that point.

It’s not a chance that they should take! Especially if the child says they’re refusing to eat! “‘I am not eating.’ Are you anorexic?” “What the hell’s anorexic mean?” “When you don’t eat and think you’re fat.” “Oh, come on!”. What is this, three times now, the crew’s been negligent? At least?! In an effort to squash all the beef in the house, the girls decide to move into the same bedroom. But Sharday continues to cause problems, and after yet another night of terrible sleep, by the fourth day, the others have gotten sick of her shenanigans. She sulks and avoids the others, eventually locking herself in the bathroom again, emerging two hours later. But before long, but gets upset again and starts packing, but the others have completely stopped caring, fully convinced that she’s doing it for attention. So when she locks herself in the bathroom for a third time, none of them try to talk her out and just she sits in there for an hour. This is what happens when you cry wolf.

But again, why is noone stepping in?

Like the trained child psychologist that’s literally across the hallway?! what if this girl had actually hurt herself? what the f*ck were they thinking?!….

On the morning of the final day, another of the girls has reached the end of her tether due to all the arguments and lack of sleep. “I thought that it would be fun, and it’s turned out to be a nightmare.”. She decides to go home before most of the others have woken up. The girls huddle together to make themselves feel better, then go downstairs to make cards for their parents. Then in anticipation of returning to civilisation the next day, they pretend to be parents and teachers and shout at each other for a while. Which must have been very cathartic. Although they didn’t spend their last night wrecking the place, like the boys did, they’ve still left a pretty bad mess behind. Although their parents don’t seem nearly as disappointed in them.

And what did we learn from all this, boys and girls?! Absolutely f*cking nothing. These shows told us nothing that we didn’t already know. Kids aren’t fully mentally developed and they’re still working on their social skills. So of course when you put them together without supervision, bad stuff is going to result. Any school teacher could have told you that! And if they haven’t been taught how to be independent, then of course they’re going to struggle. And calling it a social experiment doesn’t excuse the blatant negligence on the part of the filmmakers. Because kids got hurt, and they got messed up. And that’s not okay.

And that’s why none of these Lord Of The Flies-like shows have been made since. And hopefully they never will. But even if they don’t, the sad reality is that media executives will just find other ways to exploit children for views. God damn it, Netflix I hate you so f*cking much…. The main article’s over now, but I wanted to say a quick message to all of you, my viewers and subscribers. As you might know, my previous article on Sia’s terrible Autism movie, Music, ran into some major bullsh*t and basically had it’s momentum killed by . I won’t go into details again, but I had to reupload the article to try to salvage the situation. Usually reuploads don't do as well as the original article, so I was kinda expecting it to fall flat on its face.