My favorite Frontline producer Ofra Bikel has a new film on tonight at 9 on UNC-TV.
(Extra programming note: on UNC-ED "Endgame" repeats at 9 tonight.)
Bikel lives in New York's Upper East Side, one of the ritziest neighborhoods in the country. She figures that the recession's impact is not really being felt there. Until she talks to Deborah Boles, the owner of Deborah Hair Design, Bikel's longtime hair salon.
Boles invites Bikel to listen to some of the stories Boles has heard as she cuts and colors hair. And it is those stories that Bikel chronicles in "Close to Home."
What she hears are tales of struggle from all over the spectrum. There's a young couple who started an athletic training business that's now slowly losing clients. So, they're back to depending on her mother for money, a fact that shames them greatly.
There's the woman Bikel called the Porche lady because of the car Bikel admired. Well, the Porche is no more; the woman had to sell it to pay for her health insurance.
One of the most affecting stories is of Rob, a human resource person, who has been out of work for a year. He shares his account of the the day he was laid off and gives a heart-wrenching account of the emotional strength -- and toll -- it takes to apply for a job over and over again to no avail. His story is the story of those over 50, whose experience is being devalued in this economy.
It's a simple idea that works beautifully. And before you go judging these folks for still getting their hair done, you'll see that the salon may be the one habit left that helps them feel human. And if they didn't, Boles too would suffer. And she too is living on the edge.
"Close to Home" is not always easy viewing, but it is powerful, moving and honest. Just as Bikel's perception of who is suffering was changed, yours may well be too.