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Has anyone seen the BBC documentary 'Make me a German'???

(60 Posts)

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worldcitizen Tue 20-Aug-13 00:13:17

Here is a German article about it

Die Welt: Make me a German-Leben wie echte Deutsche. Ein Briten-Experiment.

LoveSewingBee Sat 24-Aug-13 14:29:08

Haven't seen the programme but read the article in Die Welt.

I agree with others, this is cheap TV and poor journalism.

Of course it does not tell you anything at all about the Germans, it is just all a bit silly really.

How can you get to understand a different country and a different culture in just two weeks, not even speaking the language?

Bue Thu 22-Aug-13 23:40:34

I was looking forward to this programme but thought it turned out very silly. I only know the country from visiting family there, but from the people I do know in northern Germany, I really didn't recognize this version of daily life. Also extremely odd that the Rowletts went from being a north London meeja couple to playing at being a couple in a totally different class and social milieu.

MmeLindor Thu 22-Aug-13 12:45:03

I did think it implied that British workers are a bit lazy. The conversation about it not being worthwhile to go back to work was misleading, as it wasn't really made clear that this was due to the tax brackets of the parents, ie while one parent stays home with the kids, the other parent is taxed a lot less. If both parents work, you have to decide who pays least tax.

I can't decide which way around I prefer. Now my kids don't need childcare, I think I prefer the UK system of taxing couples separately.

Yes, 'hausfrau' does sound a bit derogatory. Most women I know would say, 'ich bin [job description] aber bin z.Zt in Mutterschutz'. I would say that most of my friends went back to work, at least part time.

DH snorted in derision when he saw them wearing lederhosen and dirdl, drinking 'a Mass'.

Very few of our friends have Trachten outfits, and we lived in Franken - I know that more folk are likely to wear them the further south you get, but even then it is generally at a Fest or a wedding.

worldcitizen Thu 22-Aug-13 08:48:42

I find the term 'Hausfrau' really and old-fashioned description of a SAHM as well. Not sure, if people know, it's very often considered a derogatary term as well?!

Women would usually like to describe themselves with their professions and what they've trained or studied to be and THEN add that they are staying home with children and that they are not working at all, or they are working part-time in their profession or working something else, cause it fits better with school hours or whatever.

I know tons of women from loads of countries who would love to be able to decide, if they would like to stay at home with new child a month, a year or 3 years...AND be able to return to old job.
And the fact that fathers also can take the paternity leave plus parents being able to switch back and forth as well is important.

I cannot stand when Bavaria (as the Bundesland) is constantly brought as a German prime example.
To me that would be like only featuring Scotland and presenting that region (I know country) as the UK.

I am sure if German newspapers and comedians would constantly represent every Brit as the kilt-wearing (lederhosen) "Haggis" (Kraut) with a very distinguishable accent (Bayrisch und Fränkisch) which couldn't be further away from the RP English (as in Hochdeutsch), even many Scots wouldn't feel well represented.

And I know, some might say that Schwäbisch or Sächsisch or Thüringisch might even be even further away from the Hochdeutsch grin

FrauEnglischLehrerin Thu 22-Aug-13 07:46:29

Interesting what you say about the difference in work ethic, MmeLindor. I'd wondered whether that part of the programme might have been unfair towards Britain, since it seemed to imply workers there only do bits and pieces of work in between fbing and gossiping (I haven't lived in the UK for a long time).

I agree with what you say about childcare and I think maybe those mums Bee Rowlatt was talking to had already had a earful from her about how unfulfilled she was feeling having to stay at home and look after her children and do housework when she could have been at work. The complaint that it is barely financially worthwhile to go back to work once you factor in childcare costs and tax is presumably valid for a lot of British mothers, too.

MmeLindor Thu 22-Aug-13 07:09:01

What a shame the thread was so derailed.

Anyway. I saw the documentary and thought it was interesting, but like other have said, a bit of a wasted opportunity. I lived in Germany for 14 years and am married to a German.

They seemed to have taken a good few extreme examples, mixed in some stereotypes and then added the strange idea that they had to live like an average German couple. I suspect if you did the same in UK, it would not give a picture of our country that we would necessarily identify with.

I found the decision to put the DD into a Waldkindergarten very odd. It is an absolute niche educational choice, I would say.

The talk about childcare and SAHMs was odd too, because they totally neglected to mention maternity leave of 3 yrs, where the employer has to keep the job open for you. This does mean that a lot of women go back into work when their kids go to school, even if just parttime.

Also think that they missed out on explaining the recent changes, with the advent of the Ganztagsschule and wraparound after-school-care in many areas.

I found it interesting to view the difference in work ethic, as this is something that DH has noticed (having just moved over here). He is used to a very formal uebergabe of responsibilities, and that just didn't happen here. I wondered if the apprentice system in Germany made people more accustomed to training others.

MmeLindor Thu 22-Aug-13 00:29:05

Marking place to return tomorrow when on PC.

worldcitizen Thu 22-Aug-13 00:23:27

I sometimes wonder how all the Germans who are living in the UK manage to deal with all the non-sense, stereotyping, mocking and utter rudeness???

Have been thinking about asking this question for a while, but I guess it's better to leave it at that.

Sometimes I feel almost disgusted by all of it or feel like this sad or this shock or this angry.

worldcitizen Wed 21-Aug-13 20:57:15

Thanks for the tip. Didn't know about Telly Addicts. Will have a look in a minute.

FrauEnglischLehrerin Wed 21-Aug-13 15:45:18

There's a thread in Telly Addicts about this programme, although the discussion seems to have more or less finished. People with strong ties to Germany seem to be saying that the programme didn't altogether represent what they thought of as typical for Germany, but those who knew less about Germany have taken it more as gospel. Par for the course, naturaly, but still rather frustrating.

I actually found the part of the programme about the success of the Mittelstand quite enlightening. I used to teach at a company that made plumbing fittings - the factory was located in a village with 600 inhabitants and employed 400 people. One of my students told me they had supplied fittings to the White House. Is it politics that has caused British manufacturing to dwindle?

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 21-Aug-13 14:12:24

Frau - that's interesting. I'd about regional differences, as in "things are a bit different in Bavaria", but didn't realise there were such variations between Lander.

HQ - thanks.

worldcitizen Wed 21-Aug-13 12:57:06


I requested for it to be moved to 'Living Overseas' as I felt it would attract more people who would be interested in this thread and would have something relevant to say.

It was unbearable to continue to have the thread up all-together to be honest, as the coments were way below the belt.
Anyway after erasing some of the comments, it actually sounds much better than it actually was.

It made me truly very upset and not in the mood to discuss at all anymore.

So thanks to the other posters and your comments thanks

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 21-Aug-13 12:46:31


I am baffled that it's ok to spout racist propaganda, as Nay has done. but a perfectly reasonable thread gets shoved to the hinterlands of MN.

FWIW, I found the programme very superficial and the way the man was cooing over the factory workers (when it seemed pretty similar working standards to a UK factory) was infuriating.


It was moved here at the OP's request. We are generally quite happy to move threads to where the OP wants them (so long as it's not obviously 'wrong', ie moving a non-AIBU to AIBU).

It's not 'OK to spout racist propaganda' at all - do please report any posts you think we ought to look at.

worldcitizen Wed 21-Aug-13 12:41:35

Hey FrauEnglish thanks for that.

FrauEnglischLehrerin Wed 21-Aug-13 12:01:16

I also watched the programme and found it mildly entertaining.

world I think the regional separateness of Germany is probably something that is barely appreciated by the majority of Brits, including the makers of this programme. I live on the border of two Bundesländer, and across the border they have different public and school holidays, a different curriculum in their schools, a different predominant religion, a different political party in government, different banks, and so on. If they made a similar programme and sent a German family to live in, say, Bristol, then probably people living in the Scottish highlands wouldn't recognise much of their lives, either.

There was one moment where the British bloke asked his German dinner guests their opinion of Britain, they replied with something negative and the Brit was completely shocked and said "don't hold back, will you!" That made me laugh. Otherwise you really didn't miss much.

worldcitizen Tue 20-Aug-13 15:20:08

Thanks. I actually had so much to say and was having so many questions I wanted to ask and add a few things, as at the moment I am in the midst of making a few life decisions in terms of relocating OR staying in Germany...

GoshAnneGorilla Tue 20-Aug-13 13:50:36

I am baffled that it's ok to spout racist propaganda, as Nay has done. but a perfectly reasonable thread gets shoved to the hinterlands of MN.

FWIW, I found the programme very superficial and the way the man was cooing over the factory workers (when it seemed pretty similar working standards to a UK factory) was infuriating.

worldcitizen Tue 20-Aug-13 10:17:59

Hey MrTumbles thanks for that. I was reading the comments on that BBC blog page, and what struck me was how many people there have commented about them not having recognized "their Germany" at all and they also have critisized the choice of city as well.

I myself get so angry sometimes about picking and choosing very specific regions and turn this into something like all Germans are like that.

I was asking myself where would they send people of other countries in the UK to try "to be a Brit"?

Pachacuti Tue 20-Aug-13 10:15:51

I saw the first five minutes, translated it as "we wanted to see whether we could have a free holiday in Germany and pass it off as a documentary" and switched over.

Moving this to "living overseas" was a weird move on the part of MNHQ, given Living overseas is hidden away in an obscure corner of MN and only those who have bookmarked it, because they live overseas, ever go there... Those who live overseas are of course the least likely to have watched a BBC TV programme... hmm

What a very strange thread Nay turned this perfectly ordinary OP into hmm

I saw the documentary - the premise was a bit odd - the family took stats from a marketing agency on the exact average things that market research indicated "Germans" did, and tried to live precisely according to that average - down to leaving 2 of their children behind in the UK to be closer to the "average" number of children per family. Everything was very much staged around that - there was no real attempt to hide the fact everything was staged.

The thing that struck me the most was the fact absolutely everyone spoke English the whole time grin Imagine if a German family had tried to live as Mr and Mrs Smith, the "Average" Brits - somehow I think they'd have had to speak English, unlike "Herr and Frau Müller" - who never attempted to speak any German yet said they were sampling life as typical "average" Germans grin

I also think this documentary could have been made in the UK with British people trying to live (for just 2 weeks, which is all this family did) according to a marketing company's research findings of the exact average Brit, with equally unrealistic results grin

It was all a lot of nothing really - a lot was made of the woman staying home with the 2 year old, yet the child was barely ever with her and she was filmed doing the supermarket shop alone while her husband was at work - presumably she left the toddler with the camera crew grin Don't think they got any more in depth knowledge of what really makes Germany tick than any 15 year old on a 2 week school exchange programme, probably a lot less as of course the 15 year old would be living full time with a German family and trying to speak the language!

It was a fluff programme really - I expected it to be more annoying (live in Germany) but it was a bit of nothing really, not much to it.

OliviaIsOffTheGinMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 20-Aug-13 09:30:09

Does any one here need to the talk guidelines?
We have moved this to our living overseas topic

worldcitizen Tue 20-Aug-13 07:41:38

Hahahahaha Thanks znaika that made my morning thanks

znaika Tue 20-Aug-13 05:25:47

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

KhloeKardashian Tue 20-Aug-13 02:48:41

Very odd posting going on. shock

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