What to say if you liked it?
About time, something to stop the awful younger generation from having sex. We never had sex in our day.
What to say if you didn’t like it?
Just as the Romans used to throw Christians to the lions for a cheap thrill, BBC2 sends London kids to the God Botherers.
What was good about it?
• The teenagers all came across as very likeable and thoughtful about the Romance Academy experiment in which sex was banned for five months.
• Janine, a lookalike of Lesley from Big Brother 6, provided the most entertainment eg “Sex is a bit like Pringles, yeah, once you pop you can’t really stop!”
* The comedy value of the two over-enthusiastic Christian youth workers, who conformed to every stereotype. Rachel Gardner was a touchy-feely New Age follower, while Dan Burke was a strange cross between Gavin Beale, the wannabe hipster RE teacher from Bromwell High, and Big Brother’s Eugene (but he did have a carefully shaved eyebrow to give him a bit of street cred).
• The revelation that teenage house parties haven’t changed. The stories of how the teens lost their virginity mainly involved getting drunk at a house party, finding out that sex wasn’t what it was cracked up to be and regretting the way it happened.
• The bitchy clique of Janine, Grace and Nichola. They walked out of the American religious song and dance routine after failing to suppress their giggles. They also sang Barney The Dinosaur’s I Love You song to make fun of Rachel and Dan. While normally these three are the sort of people we’d hate, we could see exactly where they were coming from here.
• There was some good to come out of the experiment. Grace, for example, noticed that by declining to have sex at a party, the boys treated her with more respect while the girls who had sex were called slags.
• The programme managed to highlight another problem – teenage drinking – when Wesley made a fool of himself after breaking the booze ban and knocking back vodka and Southern Comfort.
• It was a surprise to see a lot of the lads admitting they “wished they’d have waited”. While girls often say this, boys rarely do for fear of appearing “less of a man”.
• While the teenagers weren’t eloquent (“sex is when a man and woman have sex”), they frequently made excellent points. When the ridiculous Pastor Jason Goss told them they shouldn’t date someone if they weren’t planning to marry them, they argued that no-one should jump into marriage and that everyone learns from experience.
• After Rachel revealed she wouldn’t be taking the five-month abstinence challenge herself as she is married, Janine demanded she try. Rachel phoned her husband to ask him and, of course, he refused.
• When Pastor Goss said that any kind of sex was wrong, Janine asked if he’s be more annoyed if his daughter told him that she had “got fingered” or that she’d got pregnant.
• The informative, and occasionally shocking, statistics: 60 per cent of 14 year olds had sex when drunk; 65 per cent of teens had unprotected sex; in Harrow alone, the number of teen pregnancies has risen by 40 per cent and sexually transmitted infections among teenagers have doubled in the last year.
What was bad about it?
• It was disappointing if you were expecting to laugh at a cast of Kevin The Teenager boys and Vicky Pollard girls.
• Pastor Goss who runs a hard-line US abstinence group. He considers any activity involving “the private areas” to be sexual and any comments that didn’t go with his dogmatic views were cast aside. He reminded us of trashy self-help life coaches with his “stairs” metaphor – the top step is marriage, so why start dating someone if you’re not aiming for marriage? We liked Janine’s response: “You can always walk back down again!”.
• Annoying 15-year-old brat Wesley, aka Wince. With his hooded top, baseball cap and crappy jewellery, he’s the kind of chav kid you see loitering around corner shops every day. He lost his virginity aged 12, got drunk and arrogant (“cos I want to”), told every other male they were “a batty” and got arrested and locked up on the Friday before the group flew to America.
• The incredibly tacky religious decorations in the US Abstinence programme, including domineering paintings of Jesus Christ and signs saying “Faith In Almighty God”. The tackiest though was the Pastor Goss show, where he had a plasma screen counting down to the start, a popstar microphone and pyrotechnics galore. It was like a Las Vegas nightmare. The Silver Ring Thing roadshow, featured in programme two, looks even worse.
• Pastor Goss with his guitar and awful song about “worshipping God for who he is” and the rather creepy sight of his happy clappy congregation in a trance and with faces looking like they’re constipated.
• All American cheeseburger Rachel Fox, a member of the US Abstinence movement, who said, through her fixed grin: “It’s a pledge to keep ourselves pure” before condemning the Brits for questioning the pastor.
• Dan being stupidly coy, referring to sex as “whoopsies”, and Rachel using expressions such as “super duper”, “when young people are drunk or high they tend to make bad choices” and “this ice rink is a symbol of our project”.
• UK girl Chelsea defined sex as “when the ting goes in the ting” so under the abstinence pledge you could get away with everything else. This was an interesting loophole, but what was more annoying was the hypocrisy of Christian American virgin teenager Matt who said pretty much the same thing.
• The title sequence where the kids and the youth workers model t-shirts bearing the title. No doubt these will be available in all shops soon.
• It seems a fairly pointless exercise. They’ll be at it again soon enough, we reckon. And in America, where abstinence programmes are big business ($200 million spent on abstinence-only sex education) there has been an increase in teenage pregnancies.