Australians who tuned in to SBS’s controversial show Struggle Street were left wondering why the furore?
The documentary series about western Sydney residents doing it tough debuted on Wednesday night despite a public outcry against SBS for peddling “poverty porn”.
Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali, who staged a protest of garbage trucks at SBS headquarters on Tuesday, claimed the producers deliberately engineered scenes to treat residents with contempt.
But social media overall responded with praise, and after going to air the show was the number on trending Twitter topic in Australia.
“So far Struggle Street on SBS is a revelation. Resilient people. Cold hard reality touched by real love,” Ten Network journalist Paul Bongiorno tweeted after the show.
SBS was praised for treating the people of Mt Druitt with respect, with the show opening a window into the lives of Australians struggling with real social issues.
“I didn’t think it “poverty porn” and nor was it a voyeuristic exercise. It was interesting and heartbreaking,” wrote Twitter user Nick Spurway.
Media commentator and author Mike Carlton tweeted: “I’m thinking #StruggleStreet is a warm and sympathetic portrayal of people doing it tough.”
SBS admitted to cutting scenes from Struggle Street after speaking with participants, and will reportedly condense the final two episodes into one.
It also modified its promo clip, which was slammed for being unfair and distasteful after showing people smoking drugs, fighting, swearing, riding motorbikes in a local park, a man breaking wind and a woman calling a cat a “slut”.
Federal politician Ed Husic, representing the seat of Chifley in western Sydney, praised the show for shinning a light on people less fortunate.
“Ok its promos were WAY out of line but at least Struggle Street spotlights the challenges confronting neighbourhoods in our area,” he tweeted.
However there were some who remained less than impressed, claiming the show wasted public money and made fun of its participants.
“Humiliating poor people in the name of “getting the message out there” is cheap and tacky journalism,” posted Twitter user Brenda.