Fox's "Touch": A Social Worker's Review

I just finished watching "Touch" and wanted to share my take. Please excuse this hastily written entry!

I've heard about "Touch", Fox's latest sci-fi series featuring a social worker, for months now. According to Social Workers Speak, social workers have worked with the show's producers and actress playing the social worker to ensure an accurate portrayal of the profession. While I wasn't planning to watch this show, reading about it piqued my interest enough to watch the pilot episode. Going into it, I had my doubts about how the social worker would be portrayed. Given the fact that the social worker is your stereotypical child welfare one, I expected the worst.

Honestly, I was surprised. While a quick twitter search seemed to show a number of negative comments about social worker Clea Hopkins, I didn't think the way she carried herself was that bad. Given the information in her file about Jake and his father Mark(and the fact that she lacked the perspective of us omniscient TV viewers), she acted in a manner similar to how I would have if I was in that situation.

What I really enjoyed about this social worker was her characterization as pragmatic, intelligent, and compassionate. While there were some moments I thought she was a little too harsh (as she herself admitted), authoritative, and by the book, Clea seemed to show genuine concern for both Jake and Mark. While she ultimately had to place Jake in a (strangely empty) board and care home, it seemed as if she wanted to see father and son reunited eventually. I could definitely sense the empowerment approach being employed by her, especially as she explained to Mark that his situation was not his fault and that he was a good man. In the upcoming episodes, I'll have to see if I can pick up on more social work theories and modalities of practice.

Nitpicks I have regarding the pilot include the following: First, I was surprised to see the child taken away so easily. Given the lack of resources and foster parents in my state, children are only taken away when they are in immediate danger. The fact that Jake ended up on the radio tower so many times seems more the fault of whoever was babysitting him than the father (who was at work when Jake climbed up there).

Second, did anyone else notice the emptiness of the "board and care" home? Given the cuts to social service programs across the nation, I half-expected the place to be overflowing with children.

Third, I was quite surprised at the amount of time Clea was able to dedicate to Jake's case. At one point, she even left Jake to go on a wild goose chase with his father. I'm pretty sure most child protective social workers lack the time to do something remotely close to that due to high caseloads.

Well, that's my brief take on "Touch". I will probably watch future episodes to see how they proceed with the plot and the characterization of Clea Hopkins.

Did anyone else happen to catch the episode? What are your thoughts on how the social worker was portrayed?


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