The Girl Who Became Three Boys is the sensational title for C4âs documentary investigating the circumstances that led to the arrest, charge and subsequent sentencing of Gemma Barker for fraud and sexual assault earlier this year.
This is an extraordinary story. It explores how Gemma, by creating Facebook pages for nice boy Aaron, reckless chav Luke and mumbling manipulator Connor, was able to dupe her two best friends Jessica and Alice into romantic relationships with her.
Through centuries of popular fiction, weâve long been familiar with the notion of girls pretending to be boys – or vice versa – to gain love or social acceptance, but this is a device usually played for laughs and giggles and it seems that the makers of this film were unable to forget this when making the show.
By punctuating dramatic reconstruction and thoughtful lines of questioning with Sim City-style animation and highlighting the eccentric nature of Jessica, whose frequent unintentional bon mots pepper the proceedings, the documentary is given a misplaced feeling of levity. This is regretful as at the heart of this situation is a series of sexual assaults.
Despite this tonal misjudgement, the very nature of the piece means that you can’t help but feel for the two girls as they recount the details of their love affairs with the âboysâ? in question. The pair detail how Barker questioned them on what they want from a boy and how she capitalised on this knowledge. However, I was also very concerned at their level of naivety. How could they have been so easily fooled by some fairly dodgy back stories and disguises that ultimately rely on Gemma wearing a hat at all times? I suppose it’s age to judge with the benefit of age and hindsight.
Indeed, the girls did notice many similarities between the boys and their friend Gemma Barker, such as similar features and identical perfect teeth, prompting Jessica to ask Aaron if they were related.
There was also the fact that all these characters lived on the same gated community in Weybridge and were subject to more than their fair share of tragedy and bereavement.
Jessica and Alice did notice and questioned these things, so maybe it wasn’t just naivety but a willingness to go against their better judgement for a chance at love that was to blame. That’s something that nearly all of us are guilty of..