A gritty crime drama set in Brighton is just my cup of tea. Cuffs delivered in every way for me and I must admit I’m quite gutted to find out it’s not been renewed. This is such a shame because I don’t think I’ve seen a more contemporary, diverse and genuinely thrilling crime show on television and certainly not one which also has superb storytelling and character development. Read More
I found this series by accident on ABC one night. Being set in the 1960s, it looked like something I’d enjoy. Set in a London hospital, Breathless follows the lives of several doctors, nurses and their families. Despite taking a while to grow on me, I enjoyed the series and was sad to hear it was never renewed for a second series.
Breathless has the same vibe of shows like The Royal and Heartbeat (some of my favourites), but is focused more on the personal lives of each character than either of those shows, rather than following a particular medical case within the hospital. It took me one or two episodes to get my head around everyone, but the complex web of story lines and connections between characters was ultimately what made the show compelling.
The cast was great, with some characters really surprising me. Successful surgeon Otto Powell (Jack Davenport) turned out to be a very different man to the one I imagined he would be after the first episode. But my favourite character was Angela Wilson (Catherine Steadman), a young nurse who has a strong sense of right and wrong, and is caring for her sick father.
Aside from the gorgeous composition and filming of the series (the costumes are beautiful), my favourite aspect of the series was the exploration of abortion. Still illegal at the time, Otto and other doctors and nurses perform private procedures outside the hospital. It’s such a small element of the series, but it continues to be an important topic to discuss, particularly in popular culture.
Although Breathless isn’t a favourite for me, or really something I’d go out of my way to re-watch, I did enjoy it. I would have liked a second season to see how things progressed for the characters, who all grew on me throughout the series. Having said that, the conclusion didn’t have too many loose ends, which I appreciated knowing the story wouldn’t continue. Breathless was enjoyable, with a compelling series of story lines.
One of my closest friends has been begging me to watch Mad Men since we met when we started university. Now I can see why. I’ve just finished the fourth season and am desperate for friends to watch it so we can discuss everything. Part of me wishes I’d written reviews for each season because I have SO MANY thoughts about every aspect of this show. Instead I’ve settled for reviewing the first four seasons and hopefully I don’t miss anything. I’ve no doubt this is a series I will be re-watching frequently.
To be honest, when I started watching Mad Men I questioned if I’d continue past season one. That was until I got to the final few episodes. It’s not that there’s anything much wrong with the start of the series, except that I disliked almost every character and it felt like very little was going on plot-wise when it came to the overall direction of the show. Despite this, I adored the setting and was intrigued by every episode and every character. By season two, I was absolutely hooked.
One of the things I love about Mad Men (and Love Child) is the subtle integration of real historical events and movements. Things like the civil rights movement, election and assassination of John F Kennedy and (my personal favourite) The Beatles historic Shea Stadium concert are all woven into the fabric of the show. This adds to the quality of the show; these events aren’t just slotted in to provide context for the time period. It’s an essential part of bringing the 1960s to life on screen and creating a totally believable world. Likewise, the fashion and styling of the era also create the feeling of stepping back in time.
Unfortunately, with that comes the confronting exploration of overt sexism, racism and homophobia in 1960s America. Honestly, some scenes have made my jaw drop and I am almost constantly frustrated by this absolutely disgusting behaviour. But, I think the way these issues are explored fully is fantastic. As a white woman who’s led a privileged life in what is, by comparison, an accepting society, I was shocked that this behaviour didn’t even raise an eyebrow amongst the characters. But after hearing my mum’s own experiences with sexism in the workplace as a young woman, I know Mad Men isn’t accentuating this behaviour for dramatic affect. While there’s no doubting society still has a long way to go on so many fronts, I am thankful things have started to change.
Mad Men’s pivotal character, Don Draper, continues to leave me with so many conflicting thoughts. My feelings towards Don can change rapidly from minute-to-minute within an episode. Yet, his character as a whole has grown on me despite his flaws. I’m enjoying seeing his relationship with daughter Sally deepen as she grows up and I’m hoping this continues in the series. When it comes to other characters, I’ve been surprised my hate for Pete has lessened, while my love for Peggy and Joan has also continued to grow. Overall, I now adore every character for their complex, and often flawed, personalities. For me, that’s always the mark of a truly great story. It’s easy to love something when you like and can relate to a character, but it takes masterful storytelling for me to love characters I don’t really like and to care about them so much I’ll stick with them for hours of viewing.
I love how the dynamics of the office and industry are explored. It’s an integral part of the story; not just a pretty backdrop of the character’s personal life and drama to play out on. So much has happened during the first four seasons and I can’t wait to see how the later seasons develop.
I think I’ve seen perhaps three movies at the cinemas this year. Honestly, there haven’t been that many new releases which have appealed to me lately and I feel like there’s more value for money in buying the DVD for less than the cost of a cinema ticket and a boysenberry choc-top (which is undoubtedly the best kind of choc-top). But, a week or so ago, one of my best friends asked if I’d like to see The Intern. It was just what I needed. Life’s been pretty hectic (in a good way) this past month and this film was the perfect, light-hearted escape from reality.
The Intern follows Ben (Robert De Niro), a 70-something New Yorker who doesn’t quite feel content in retirement and needs a new challenge. When he sees a flyer for senior citizen interns at a start-up online fashion label, he leaps at the chance. Unsurprisingly, he charms his way through the application process. But then comes the real challenge. Can he make an impression on focused, ambitious owner Jules (Anne Hathaway)?
When I watch a movie, 90% of the time I just want something fun and enjoyable. I’m a big fan of old school musicals, chick-flicks and rom-coms. Occasionally, I’ll watch something meaningful and emotional (like Unbroken) or a book adaptation, but for the most part, movies are a total escape for me. The Intern was marshmallow sweet and perfectly filled my craving for a lighthearted film. But there was real heart there, and some pretty important messages about valuing life experience and taking a step back from trying to control and perfect every aspect of your career and/or home life.
I loved both De Niro and Hathaway in their respective roles, but adored them as a partnership. I saw so much of myself in Jules and her inability to let go of the company she had built from scratch. I also saw a lot of my dad’s work ethic in Ben, including their need to keep working and contributing to society despite being at an age where many people only see them as being ‘past it’. Apart from that, Ben was such a cute and charming character. One of my favourite scenes was when he set two old school alarm clocks for his first day of work. Bless.
Alongside Ben and Jules were a loveable cast of secondary characters. I loved the young men Ben took under his wing, who initially thought they couldn’t possibly learn anything from the old dude at the desk next to them. Their group scenes were without a doubt the funniest elements of The Intern. But there was one actress who really stole the show: Jules’ daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner).
I must admit the ending didn’t quite work for me, but perhaps this is mainly down to the fact that none of the story lines panned out the way I imagined they were going to. Overall though, The Intern was a lovely film. A fabulous cast and cute, heartwarming storyline make The Intern a film I’d love to watch again.
Given how much I adored the first season of Love Child, I was surprised it took me months to get around to the second season. But this show is absolutely perfect for binge-watching. It took me less than 24 hours to watch all eight episodes because I just could not stop. The second season cemented Love Child as one of my favourite shows of all time. In fact, my notes after watching this started with two simple words: FREAKING LOVE.
Before I jump into discussing this season though, if you haven’t watched Love Child check out my review of season one. Also, what are you waiting for? Go and watch it!
The season kicks off as Sydney celebrates a brand new decade and kisses goodbye to the swinging ‘60s. As with the first season, I love how Love Child continually references real events and social movements of the era, right down to which celebrities Martha (Miranda Tapsell) is planning to marry. The best thing is this feels completely organic, not like the show is trying too hard to be a period drama.
My favourite thing about the move into the 1970s is the exploration of a new wave of feminism. During the first season there was an underlying focus on the inequality between men and women through Joan’s (Jessica Marais) experiences at the hospital, but this is taken to a whole new level when she becomes the only female intern and Patty (Harriet Dyer) discovers Germaine Greer. Love Child also explores casual, ingrained racism through Martha’s experiences.
As I said in my review of season one, I absolutely love the girls of Stanton House. Alongside Joan, who is just a freaking boss for the majority of this season, I adore Patty, whose experiences this season just broke my heart. There’s no way I can fault Love Child for character development, with each of the girls facing so many challenges and growing because of them. The second season also saw some new characters, my favourite was (of course) Patrick Jim (Matthew Le Nevez). Seeing him with a baby is reason enough to watch this show. Honestly. Anyway, I loved the relationship between him and Joan and I absolutely cannot wait to see what happens in season three because this finished on a pretty big cliffhanger. Just writing this post has made me want to go back and re-watch the season (before going back and watching every Offspring episode with Patrick).
Honestly though, gorgeous men aside, Love Child just keeps getting better and better. While not directly based on one person’s story, I love that this show celebrates the strength of women. Both everyday sexism and racism feature heavily in the background of this season, highlighting the fact that these things are still issues in society. An addictive and emotionally-engaging story, beautiful characters and an unflinching portrayal of Australian society in the 1960s and ‘70s combine in Love Child to create one of the best dramas on our screens right now and one of my favourite shows of all time.
When I first saw the advertisements for Love Child last year, I was only going to watch it because Jessica Marais is one of my favourite Aussie actresses. It also reminded me of The Royal, a hospital spin-off of my favourite British television show Heartbeat. Honestly, I had a few doubts about how good the show would be. I certainly wasn’t expecting the characters to have such depth or the storyline to be so strong and compelling. Love Child is definitely one of the best Aussie dramas in recent years.
It’s 1969 in King’s Cross, Sydney. Young midwife Joan Millar (Jessica Marais) is returning to Australia from London to work at one of the country’s largest maternity wards. That’s where she meets the girls from Stanton House, a place for unwed mothers to stay until their babies are born and given up for adoption. Outside the hospital gates, the world is changing fast as the Vietnam War rages and man lands on the moon. Love Child is a moving exploration Australia’s forced adoption policy and the affect it had on the young women at its centre.
There’s so much to love about this series, but perhaps the most outstanding element is the characters. Joan, as a 28-year-old who’s seen the world, acts as a big sister to the girls in Stanton House, taking them under her wing. She’s not afraid to stand up for the young girls or speak up as the only female medical student in the hospital facing a very sexist system (on that point, it’s pretty sad to see that hasn’t changed much in over 40 years). I have so much love for Joan despite some of the decisions she made during the season (hey, you can’t always help who you fall for). I’m interested to learn more about her past in London, which is only briefly discussed in season one, although it’s the reason she returned to Sydney with only one exam left in her medical degree.
It’s impossible to pick a favourite Stanton House girl. Patty (Harriet Dyer), Viv (Sophie Hensser), Annie (Gracie Gilbert) and Martha (Miranda Tapsell) are all amazing in their own right (as characters and actresses), but together they’re formidable. Each has their own strong story which evolves over the course of the first season. Annie and Shirley’s stories undoubtably become more of the overarching focus, but I’m sure that will change in season two. My favourite thing about Patty, Viv and Martha is the little sisterhood they form. They’re there for each in so many ways and also get up to plenty of mischief. Their antics provide real fun and relief from the heavier elements of the storyline which could feel overpowering without a little humour. I could go on and on about every character, but I’ll save you. Just go and watch this yourself!
Needless to say, the soundtrack for Love Child is superb. I love the 1969 setting. It was a time where so much was changing in society broadly, as well as in Australian culture. Love Child perfectly captures this clash of the old traditions and backwards policies and the new wave of liberation and rebellion. I love the way snippets of history are intertwined with Love Child, particularly in early episodes where Mick Jagger visits Sydney and people gather to watch the moon landing.
Love Child is an outstanding Australian drama about a serious, cruel and life-changing policy implemented by the government for decades. Yet, it’s also uplifting, hopeful and perfectly captures the spirit of the swinging sixties. With a superb cast and strong, relatable characters, Love Child is must-watch television.
For those who enjoyed Love Child, I highly recommend Emily Gale’s YA novel Steal My Sunshine.
Sounds like: Love Child || The Supremes
The small seaside town of Broadchurch has been rocked by the tragic death of a young boy. Detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) investigate as the town’s residents feel the weight of collective grief, shock and national media scrutiny.
Broadchurch wasn’t really something that had been on my radar, although I think I’d seen it talked about somewhere in passing. I still had no idea what it was about when I picked it up at the library a few weeks ago. After the first episode I was filled with a compulsive need to know exactly what happened to Danny.
The mystery in season one was superb, with so many plausible twists and turns. To be honest, I think I suspected every single person at some point. Needless to say, the reveal totally flawed me. Season two took this already wonderfully formed mystery and kicked it up to a whole new level. Rather than delving into a new case, it focused on the court room and Alec’s previous Sandbrook case touched upon in season one. I loved this new direction. It would have been too easy to create some new mystery, but I felt it was so much more powerful to explore how the community tried to heal itself.
Throughout both seasons I enjoyed the parallels between the Sandbrook and Broadchurch cases, as well as between the lives of certain characters. I just can’t emphasise enough how brilliant the characters are in Broadchurch. From the start, I felt absolutely enveloped in the lives of Ellie and the Latimer’s. I’ll admit I didn’t immediately warm to Alec, but loved him by the end of season two.
Broadchurch isn’t just another murder mystery. It’s a deep and thought provoking exploration of a town unravelling at the seams. Stunning plot and powerful characters combine in Broadchurch to create brilliant British drama. I am thrilled there is a third season to look forward to and completely intrigued by the direction it will take.
Set in London’s East End in the 1950’s, Call the Midwife is the type of period drama the Brits do best. The series follows the lives of the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House who serve the families in the surrounding district. At the time many people of the area lived in poverty; tiny rooms housed several people and there was often no running water. Read More
Mr Selfridgetells the story of ‘Mile a Minute Harry’, a man with a mission to make shopping as thrilling as sex. Pioneering and reckless, with an almost manic energy, he created a theatre of retail where any topic or trend that was new, exciting, entertaining – or sometimes just eccentric – was showcased.
I’ve recently finished watching Mr Selfridge and have found myself well and truly in love. The series is based on the story of American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge and the famous department store he created in bustling London. It’s perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, set near the turn of the century. Like Downton, Mr Selfridge is full of gorgeous costumes and beautiful sets. However, there is also a lot of depth to the series.
Mr Selfridge explores an array of different story lines including Harry’s business empire and family as well as the personal lives and careers of his staff. The series is set during the time of the Suffragette movement and I was particularly fascinated by the portrayal of the role of women. Mr Selfridge cleverly examines their place in the workplace, their career aspirations, and social expectations in relationships and marriage.
However, the characters were the heart of Mr Selfridge. I couldn’t help loving all of them and was intrigued by their stories. I was particularly frond of Agnes and her brother George as well as Mr Crabb. There were also several historical figures featured during the series including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Anna Pavlova.
As you can tell, I loved Mr Selfridge and am eagerly awaiting the second season. Have you watched the series? If so, what did you think?
I realise I was a little slow to jump onto the Paper Giants bandwagon – it has taken me a shamefully long time to finally watch the DVD, but now that I have I totally get why this show was so popular. And I absolutely loved it. In fact, I watched it twice in the space of four days.
In early 1972, journalist and editor, Ita Buttrose and heir to Australia’s most powerful publishing family, Kerry Packer, started a magazine that created one of the most dramatic sensations in Australian publishing history.
On the surface, it’s the story of a magazine, but it is so, so much more than that. It’s a story of the birth of a magazine, but it is also a story of Australia in the seventies. If you enjoyed last year’s television adaptation of Puberty Blues then I promise you will enjoy this. One of the biggest themes in Puberty Blues which translates to Paper Giants is the role of women in Australian society. In the early seventies Australia was still a relatively conservative nation, but Ita Buttrose and Cleo were on the cusp of the changes which swept through Australia when feminism arrived. The simple act of naming the magazine Cleo was designed to empower women; breaking them from the bonds of magazines like The Australian Women’s Weekly. Initially Cleopatra, the magazine was named for a strong, intelligent women who wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted, including men.
Cleo was new, it was fresh, it was exciting. It covered everything from female masturbation to breast enhancement and included a nude male centrefold each month. Although Cleo is no longer considered quite so outrageous and daring, it continues to be a quality Australian magazine and is one which I look forward to reading every month. Transformation of the Australian magazine industry aside, Ita Buttrose also did an enormous amount for women in the media and in the workforce generally. As someone who aspires to work in magazines, I personally feel that I have a lot to thank her for. Without someone like Ita it is quite possible that the Australian magazine landscape would look the same today.
Of course, it is impossible to talk about Paper Giants without talking about Asher Keddie. She portrays Ita brilliantly. I always find the challenge with watching biopics is that I feel like I’m watching an actor playing x. However, Asher’s portrayal is completely and utterly believable. I felt like she just became Ita. It is clear that Asher did a lot of research during the production on Paper Giants.
In short, you need to watch this mini-series. It’s a fun, yet insightful portrayal of the creation of Cleo magazine and Australian culture in the seventies. I absolutely adored it and will be buying myself a copy very soon!