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Insight of the Day: The Gathering: Channel 4 teen drama turns tables on toxic parents

Central Themes

  • Toxic Parent-Child Dynamics: The show stands out by focusing on the negative impact parents can have on teens, rather than solely teen-on-teen issues. Parents in the series range from overbearing to downright manipulative.

  • Surveillance and Resistance:  Modern smartphone culture plays a key role. Parental surveillance contrasts with teenagers' attempts to carve out autonomy, particularly online, where they feel less policed.

  • Relevant Issues: The drama explores contemporary themes like social media pressures, dangerous stunts, and the way teens curate their online personas.

What Sets "The Gathering" Apart

  • Flash-Forward Structure: While overused, the shocking opening scene creates intrigue and the show quickly finds its stride.

  • Compelling Characters: Kelly, the talented but reckless gymnast with a big heart, anchors the series.

  • Social Media's Impact:  The show deftly examines how social media can create pressure and lead to potentially risky situations for teens.

  • Philip Larkin Inspiration:  The writer's re-engagement with Larkin's poem influenced the exploration of how parents' choices and flaws impact their children.

Comparisons & Context

  • Predecessors Like Skins: "The Gathering" differs from earlier teen shows like Skins, largely due to the central role smartphones and online life play in the plot.

  • Channel 4's Need for a Hit: The series arrives during a time when Channel 4 seeks a breakthrough success after a quieter period.

  • Liverpool as a Character: Filming in Liverpool adds to the authenticity and visual appeal of the show.

Overall, "The Gathering" promises a fresh take on the teen drama with its exploration of toxic parenting, social media dynamics, and the unique challenges faced by teens in the digital age.


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