Offspring: Better Than Reality TV
Have you heard??
Yes, I’m an Offspring tragic. I can’t help it. I’m usually hopeless when it comes to watching a show at the same time each week- shift work has not helped matters. I’ve spent many frustrated hours in the past trying to watch catch up episodes on the Channel 10 website- does it randomly stop and stall for everyone or just for me? Let’s just say this is one aspect of my Offspring experience that I haven’t missed.
What I have missed is quality Aussie drama. I’m not a huge TV watcher. If any TV show is going to grab me, it needs something that really gets my attention and holds it to make me want to keep watching. It could be that something explored in the show is totally foreign yet super interesting to me or, as is the case with Offspring, it could be something I can really relate to.
In Offspring, I relate to Nina. Not her impressive obstetrics career or fabulous dress sense, though I think being a doctor of any kind is amazing and, on the other end of the spectrum, I’d love her skill with accessorising. It’s her inner monologue. I loved the constant, unchecked stream of thoughts that ran through her mind. Mine does that. Maybe not as eloquently or to the point where I am constantly physically stopping or gesticulating to myself to let random thoughts overrun me, but still, that is what I relate to.
Yes, her imagination is somewhat over the top- but hey, it’s television, after all. It has to be entertaining. And when that wild imagination focused on Dr Patrick, we could all probably forgive her those terribly excessive fantasies, am I right?
In the beginning, she was still getting over a pretty terrible relationship with that first hubby, remember? He was the pyromaniac who tried to blow stuff up to impress her. Then there was all the drama with Dr Chris, who had a missing wife who came back just as he and Nina seemed to be getting their shit together. But that was okay, because Dr Patrick came along (after all that and her bizarre one-nighter with Mick, her sister’s on and off boyfriend. I mean, I get it, Eddie Perfect, but still!)
But they eventually got together, got pregnant, were getting some counselling and working shit out all while Nina dealt with her bizarre family dramas. She has had more than her fair share of those. Separated parents who still liked the odd shag with each other and also with everyone else, her Dad not really being her Dad, that time her friend rocked up in labour with her Dad’s baby and she inadvertently delivered her nephew (who isn’t really her nephew because her Dad isn’t her actusl father), her sister’s self-destructive behaviour, her adorable brother with his immaturity and quirks, her real Dad turning out to be
Norman Gunston a local doctor with his own set of insecurities and don’t even start me on her friends and co-workers.
Then the unthinkable happened and, in a dramatic turn of events that I’m still not completely over, Patrick died before ever meeting his baby girl. You remember that tragedy? Talk about gutted. Followed up by a somewhat improbable birth in a hospital corridor that was still very touching and poignant in it’s own way. In the most recent season, Nina is still dealing with grief, motherhood, work issues, her screwed-up family and god knows what else when she squeezes in a fling with a man she finds out is married when she helps his wife to deliver their baby. She is the queen of awkward situations.
If you just read that super brief summary and have never even watched the show, you’ll note that Offspring is not all that realistic, but that’s okay. It’s television. Personally, I want as little “reality” in my television as possible. I know, because I have watched enough “reality” television to know it’s not my thing at all. A few examples:
I did watch a season or two of Big Brother when it began, but I eventually realised sitting around watching other people sitting around was pretty lame. Why watch them swim in a pool when I could go swimming myself? Why watch them get drunk and snog each other when I could head to the local pub and see that happen in real life (I stress the could here- I never actually went to the pub to watch drunk people hook up because that would be creepy, although it’s somehow totally fine if they are on television.)
I grew up watching good old Hewie fry the crap out of everything with a bit of extra butter to sweat the olive oil, so that’s pretty much what cooking shows were until someone added the “reality” factor. I watched a bit of Masterchef but all it did was make me hungry. At other times, I felt bewildered by things like molecular gastronomy and wondered what sort of person it made me if I had no desire to eat a foam of anything. By the time My Kitchen Rules came around, I was well and truly over watching other people cook improbable dishes and cry when someone else’s was even more improbable. I do think such shows probably encouraged more people to enjoy cooking though, so yeah, there’s that.
Weight Loss shows.
The Biggest Loser and all it’s spin offs are still plodding along on Australian telly and I sure hope someone gets something positive out of them. I have watched every now and then and although it is great to see people regain their health and feel better about themselves, it’s less great to see it done in a harsh and unrealistic way. People watching at home cannot train for hours and hours a day. People trying to lose weight should not necessarily be aiming to lose 5-15 kilos in a week. That isn’t “reality”; that’s unattainable for most people. Weight loss should be slow and steady but hey, that doesn’t make for exciting viewing, right?
Television shows where contestants are vying for the attentions of one bachelor or bachelorette or farmer or whatever? Do I really want to watch that? Hell, no. I do not. Gimmicky rose ceremonies not withstanding, these shows are shameless. The dialogue is so scripted and the premise so manufactured that even NSW Premier Mike Baird live tweeting a finale couldn’t hold my interest.
It must be terrible for those girls. Imagine having every word u say captured, televised, and taken out of context. Oh wait.. #TheBachelorAU
— Mike Baird (@mikebairdMP) September 17, 2015
Shows that follow celebrities or families.
The Kardashians. A friend made me watch an episode of that once and I will never, ever get that half-hour or whatever it was back. I spent a portion of my life watching a few young, super-wealthy women faff around while their mother tried to convince one of them to go well outside her comfort zone and pose nude for a soft-core porn mag. Which she did. I don’t know how she feels about it now but can I tell you, it depressed the hell out of me to see this woman’s own mother push her so hard in a direction she wasn’t comfortable with.
I tried watching Geordie Shore once, because I thought it was a talk show. It’s not. It’s interesting if you’re into fake tan- I’m not, but hey, whatever floats your boat. I also watched one of those “Housewives of…” type shows once. I don’t know if I just struck on dull episodes or what but they are not for me. If I wanted to watch women complaining about each other, I’d have to wonder what was lacking from my life.
Actual Medical shows.
Embarrassing Bodies. Oh dear god, why? Why? I understand the premise- that we should be more willing to go to the doctor with our complaints. I get it. But does anyone, except the doctor, need to see pustule-covered genitalia or severe ingrown hairs at any time? Let alone when flicking through the channels to find something vaguely entertaining to enjoy while secretly eating the last piece of cake. I guess it works as a weight control aid. Some shows show surgical procedures which can be interesting but tends to leave my husband and kids a bit pale, so best not to watch.
Talented young people audition to be in a weeks-long knock-out karaoke show. At the end, the “winner” is rewarded with a usually mediocre-at-best musical career. Don’t get me wrong- these people are usually very talented. However, they are groomed and styled and trained to fit a certain mould. It makes me sad to watch how much they go through and how much their individuality is suppressed for so little reward. Maybe I’m just too cynical?
I’d rather Offspring, thanks.
In short, what passes for reality on televisions kinda sucks. It’s either dull or shallow or horrifying or not even approaching real life. I would much rather immerse myself in Nina’s ramshackle family and over-active imagination. It might not be “real” but it is something we can relate to- work, family, love, friends, grief and moving on.
The last season ended with Nina’s romantic interest being a nurse, Leo, who appears to have similar quirks to Nina’s own. They are both awkward wafflers who are generally well-meaning but often slightly anxious and prone to saying to “wrong” thing.
I like all that in a (fictional) person. I like the idea of seeing Nina happy after so much adversity and heartbreak. I want to see her crazy family get even more complicated. It’s a happy escapism for me that is definitely preferable to what passes for reality on television!
#IBOT @ Essentially Jess.