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 ‘heroes’ usually could be described as angry young men. It used a style of social realism, which often depicted 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 films, plays and novels employing this style are set frequently in poorer industrial areas in the North of England, and use the rough-hewn speaking accents and slang heard in those regions. The film It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) is a precursor of the genre, and the John Osborne play Look Back in Anger (1956) is thought of as the first of the idiom.
The gritty love-triangle of Look Back in Anger, for example, takes place in a cramped, one-room flat in the English Midlands. The conventions of the genre have continued into the 2000s, finding expression in such television shows as Coronation Street and EastEnders.
The Drama Teacher Justin’s drama blog entry on kitchen sink drama.