Kitchen Sink Realism

Kitchen Sink Realism (or kitchen sink drama) is a term coined to describe a British cultural movement that developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art, novels, film and television plays, whose protagonists usually could be described as ‘angry young men’. Before the 1950s, the United Kingdom’s working class were often depicted stereotypically in Noël Coward’s drawing room comedies and British films. Kitchen sink works were created with the intention of changing all that. The cultural movement of Kitchen Sink Realism was rooted in the ideals of social realism, an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts working class activities. Kitchen Sink Realism expanded upon that, often depicting the domestic situations of working class Britons living in cramped rented accommodation and spending their off-hours drinking in grimy pubs, to explore social issues and political controversies. The leading characters are often ‘anti-heroes’ rather than part of a class to be admired, and are typically dissatisfied with their lives and of the world. Their political views were initially labeled as radical, sometimes even anarchic. This was all part of the British New Wave—a transposition of the concurrent French New Wave film movement in France, some of whose works, such as The 400 Blows of 1959, also emphasized the lives of the urban proletariat. Filmmakers such as Tony Richardson and Lindsay Anderson channeled their vitriolic anger into British film making, creating confrontational and gritty films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), This Sporting Life (1963) and If (1969), which were noteworthy films within the Kitchen Sink genre.