Is the RTÉ Drama ‘Kin’ Glorifying the Drug Culture in Ireland?

The RTÉ drama series ‘Kin’, set in Dublin, explores the dark subjects of drugs and gang warfare, the series follows the fictional Kinsella family and the conflicts associated with illegal drug dealing.

While this is not the first crime-themed series to debut on RTÉ, ‘Kin’ uniquely places drugs at the center of its storyline and the depiction of modern Irish crime. But does this glorify the drug culture in Ireland?

The first episode sets the tone for the series by introducing the characters and environment, but a common detail among the lead family are the nice cars, houses, and large amounts of cash in their possession.

This wealth is obtained through crime and drug dealing, but it presents the narrative of ‘high-up’ criminals having a comfortable lifestyle. An example in episode one is when the son Jamie (Cian Fitzsimons), suggests not going to college but he would prefer to work in his family’s criminal business.

This romantic view of his family’s lifestyle and career alters when he accompanies his dad (Emmett J. Scanlan) to collect money from a drug user, and Jamie witnesses his father’s ruthlessness in collecting the owed money.

‘Kin’ explores both the intriguing elements of crime, but also the details of the darker dimensions to criminal drug operations and the immoral acts and risks made for such a lifestyle. These risks are all apparent early in the show, including arrest and imprisonment, the brutality of rival gangs and the risk to your life or your family.

This series, like others in the genre of crime and drama, presents a suspenseful weekly story and allows an audience to immerse themselves in a dark, unfamiliar, and brutal criminal world, from the comfortable position as a TV viewer.

As Alfred Hitchcock said, “we all enjoy, shall we say, putting our toe in the cold water of fear”.

While on the surface this series seems to glorify the drug culture in Ireland, by demonstrating the wealth and power from the Kinsella family and the feared crime boss Eamon Cunningham (Ciaran Hinds), the fictional series does explore and attempt to depict the darker reality of illegal drug dealing in Ireland.

The show doesn’t focus directly on the obvious harmful realities of drug addiction and primarily depicts the lives of those in the middle or upper sector of the illegal drug hierarchy.

The glorification of Irish ‘drug culture’ in this programme through character development successfully presents a lifestyle that ‘pays’ well but risks not only their lives but those close to them.

This aspect of false glorification is suggested in the series to present what attracts people to join (for example money and expensive cars) but in the end destroys any chance of a ‘normal life’ and may literally kill them.

Jack Redmond.

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