Reviews of The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds (2015) and related work

The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds (2015Moving picture, 5.0 hours)

Seen in 2017.

This review refers to all 6 episodes of the 2015 “series” of this recurring Channel 4 program, the actual title of which is unclear.

In each pair of episodes, about 10 children aged 4, 5 and 6 respectively are sent by their parents to spend a couple of weeks at a special daycare center rigged with cameras. Teachers arrange psychological experiments on them and experts in child development observe the results.

Adorable and instructive, particularly the younger children, but the reality-TV tropes (confinement, Big Brother-style total surveillance, absurd challenges to provoke drama, focus on a few colourful characters, parents horny for stardom) overpower the scientific content.

moving picture non-fiction reality TV series

Våra barns hemliga liv (2020Moving picture, 3.0 hours)

Seen in 2020.

The Swedish duo of experts constantly emphasize the necessity of experiencing strong emotions, such as defeat, in order to learn to deal with these emotions and develop normally. This is both a message to parents about not sheltering their own children, and a pre-emptive strike against the many experts in child psychology who decried such exploitation of children in the homeland of reality TV.

The highlight of the show is when the 4-year-olds, left to their own devices, start making jokes about “Sommarskuggan”, a villainous character on contemporary children’s TV. Their collective imagination quickly gets the better of them and they all go hide from the monster they were kidding about.

moving picture remake non-fiction reality TV series