Never is this more true than when watching Channel 4’s brilliant fly-on-the-wall documentary, One Born Every Minute #obem
You see the couples at the start and despite yourself you judge them and slap on a label. Closely followed by a prediction of how the birth will go and how they'll treat that child for the next 18 years. Not out loud of course, but I’m pretty sure it flashes through most people’s heads.
Then begins the slow reveal, over the course of the next hour, you slowly begin to change your mind. That’s the best thing about OBEM, things are never quite what they seem.
Take tonight’s episode (4 January 2012). Meet Kurt. Baseball cap wearing, gangsta strutting, iPhone touting youth. With a Yorkshire accent to boot (best thing about him). He doesn’t look particularly interested in his girlfriend or his unborn child, thank God she’s got her mum with her.
Until the labour starts. Turns out he’s got a wise head on those Stone Island branded shoulders. An earlier abortion is his biggest regret, but it has, he says, taught him about life. Regular phone calls to update his Mum and Dad reveal a vulnerable side and someone who’s obviously part of a close and loving family.
Many men you see on OBEM are silent spare parts when it comes to the crucial pushing stage, preferring to crack jokes or hang around the ‘fanoir’ with a digital camera. Not Kurt. He turns into personal trainer extraordinaire, counting, breathing, reassuring.
But things go wrong for this young couple and as he’s sent outside in favour of having Mum as the birth partner, he’s left to ponder the fate of his unborn son alone in the smoking shelter. He’s angry, abusive and thumps walls, causing twitter to go into judgemental overdrive. But even through the anger, he still has time to say ‘alright luv’ with a smile to one of the staff.
So he might be a chav, a scally, a no hope youth bringing up more youths with no hope, or whatever epithet or judgement you want to slap on this poor kid. But he’s a caring, loving, passionate Dad who couldn’t be at his son’s birth and for a minute there, looked as though he might not get to see his son alive.
All’s well that ends well. The baby gasped for air (eventually) and the midwives had a cup of tea. Another brilliant episode, reminding me you can never judge a book by its cover.
I'm off to douche my willy welcomer.