Catch up TV reviews: Secret Life of the Human Pups, How to Get a Council House, Magnifica 70
Ivan Radford | On 29, May 2016
Secret Life of the Human Pups (All 4)
Why do some men dress up in skin-tight latex dog costumes and behave like pups? Channel 4’s eyebrow-raising documentary aims to explore this growing sub-culture in Britain, from squeaky toys to belly rubs. Tom is the main focus, a man who chooses to embody a dalmatian and winds up in Antwerp, competing at the Mr. Puppy Europe competition. On the continent, the movement is closer to its BDSM roots, turning the show into something approaching Crufts: Fetish Edition. Here, the series borders on spectacle, but on home soil, where the puppy-owner bonds are less about sex, what emerges is a more sympathetic study of outsiders, often bullied when younger, seeking escapism, companionship and a sense of self-esteem. There’s value in learning about a group of society that would otherwise stay hidden, although you can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to this bizarre itch that the film-makers don’t quite scratch.
How to Get a Council House (All 4)
Council housing is a vital part of the UK property market, at a time when a growing number of people are struggling to make ends meet. Last year, 170 people a day were evicted from homes. Channel 4’s series provides an important window into the struggle to accommodate those in need – not least because it presents both sides of the council office window. Applicants have a worrying tendency to blame black people and foreigners for coming in and snapping up all of the empty homes, but the public service broadcaster makes it clear that the blame is not the people asking for help, but the sadder truth of the big picture: that there simply aren’t any spare homes to go around. With the government extending Right to Buy, that reality is only set to become harsher. Now in its fourth series, here’s hoping the programme continues long enough to raise awareness of these important issues.
Magnifica 70 (All 4)
This Brazilian series tells the tale of a film censor, Vicente (Marcos Winter), who finds himself besotted with a porn star. The story, of the surface, is little more than smut: an uptight man finds himself unravelled by a woman taking her clothes on-camera. But there’s more wit to Walter Presents’ latest acquisition than that. Vicente, you see, is tasked with censoring films for the military dictatorship running Brazil in the 1970s, which means not just outlawing erotic movies, but also those subverting the status quo.
As he ends up making his own adult flicks, the premise playfully attempts to combine Cinema Paradiso and Boogie Nights, not to mention a whole heap of shadier productions – the shots of the actress who wows Vicente often arguably cross the line between exploring a subject and exploiting it. But there’s class among the crassness, too, as the show emerges as witty, stylish study of breaking free from social constraints as much as a tale of forbidden obsession. Read our full review.