No Award watches: Cleverman 1.03

This episode felt slower (its story was only over one day) but was no less difficult, Steph had to pause like three times on the way through.

Liz: Four out of five renowned Indigenous stage actors.

Steph: Three and a Half renowned Indigenous Stage Actors out of Five (Too much white person business)

Have we talked about this goddamn whitewashing in publicity yet? On the search page if you type ‘Cleverman’ into google:

An ensemble cast led by Scottish actor Iain Glen ("Game of Thrones") and Golden Globe nominee Frances O'Connor ("The Missing") star in a futuristic drama with roots in Aboriginal mythology. Creatures known as Hairypeople, endowed with incredible strength, speed and longevity, seek refuge among human…
this is bull

This show is SO GREAT, and SO BROWN and yet we must suffer through this GODDAMN INDIGNITY.

This is why you don’t get to have sympathetic white characters ever. Cos nobody can be TRUSTED WITH THEM.

Steph found this out via tumblr user lesbianlafayette but we wanted to HIGHLIGHT IT and not just link it and also MY DEITY.

Jorah Mormont had better die at the end of this season, shit.


Steph breathed heavily through this gifset

Hear Uncle Jack Charles tell the story of ‘The Cleverman’. (There is also a transcript, and the story itself sheds light on the role of Kora, formerly Naked Corpse Lady.)


No Award’s Feelpinions:


My feelings on this episode are a lot around appearances and expectations. There’s a moment where you think Araluen might be getting an assist from a sympathetic white lady – but at the first opportunity for rejection, the sympathetic white lady SUPER LETS HER DOWN. An experience through which all my brown peeps have suffered again and again and again. I was even tricked into hoping that she was going to get an assist from this lady, so I, too, was pulled into it.

Speaking of being tricked, though: Waruu, what did you do to make your mum so mad at you? (AUNTY LINDA) Waruu, what did you do that the crows are coming to say hello? Are you, Waruu, the crow? I HOPE WARUU IS ACTUALLY WAA, THE DIRTBAG TRICKSTER GOD.

So there’s that one story the Aunty tells in the show, but there’s all sorts of stories about Crow depending on whose Country you’re in. In Nyoongar country Wardung is Crow and he’s (from memory – I can’t find anything online) cool and respected and necessary (he carried the ancestors spirits, for example). And in Wirundjeri Country, he’s a goddamn dirtbag who fell in the fire when he was having a lend, and as a result is the trickster. So WHO IS WARUU GOING TO BE?!

And who is Jorah Mormont going to be? We had way too much Jorah time this week, but at least we know categorically what a giant fucking liar he is. Lying to Frances (who deserves better) about why he was in the Zone.


Appearances and expectations. There’s been some debate around the traps about whether this is “really” SF, but we’re slowly being eased into a future where surveillance drones and heavily armoured, militarised police are taken for granted in Sydney. It’s very “twenty minutes from now”, but it’s SF.

Appearances and expectations. In a world where Indigenous children are sent to adult prisons, we have the Hairy People, who have full beards by their mid-teens. The hair on Aruluen’s head is cut and dyed, she could almost pass for a human, but her body hair is left intact. Djukara frowns when he realises that his young friends have shaved down to pass as human, even though their lives depend on concealment. Latani takes refuge in a hairdresser, but she’s knocked unconscious, her pelt offered for sale online. Ash cares about Koen, but keeps touching both him and Kora as if she’s entitled to their bodies.

(Naked Corpse Lady now has clothes and a name! I’m still embedded deep in Legend of Korra fandom and I’m easily confused, this could go badly for me.)

I am delighted by the level of worldbuilding in the language around the Hairies, the dehumanising language like “pelt”, terms of abuse like “rug”, the security guard’s assumption that a regular black kid is a “fucking shaver”.

I’m intrigued by the fact that this is a world where Indigenous Australians are in a position of privilege relative to the Hairy People, and that there’s disagreement about how the community should deal with the Hairies, when its own position is so precarious. I feel like there’s a layer of the narrative there that’s inaccessible to me, and I hope someone writes about it. (I note, likewise, the presence of a non-Indigenous black Australian in Eve, played by African-Australian Nancy Denis.)

I am not surprised to learn that Jarrod Slade has a finger in every pie and a lie for every occasion. His scenes with Frances O’Connor continue to be weak points, and it’s only that both characters are played by such good actors that makes them worth watching. As opposed to Koen’s business partners, who just aren’t … very … interesting?


  • Of course Araluen’s first gross visitor is the Minister. Of course. Not subtle, this bit.
  • That moment when Latani was tied up and that hairdresser dude got the scissors out was HEART IN MOUTH fear.
  • Hooray that Latani SAVED HERSELF.
  • This show is so intense and distressing and real.
  • Warru’s daughter spends this episode in the right place at the right time, and we’re into it.
  • Steph is super into how attractive brown competent dude in the CA office is.
  • (The actor’s name is Mansoor Noor, he is just super pretty.)
  • Why is there a bird beating against the window of Waruu’s bathroom?



2 thoughts on “No Award watches: Cleverman 1.03

  1. Spacerelish

    Hey guys, I’ve recently found your blog thanks to The Toast, which is great cause I’ve been wanting to read one which talks about the same issues but isn’t so… American.
    Also, EP.3 WAS HYPE AS HELL. Are you guys going to do a post for every episode?

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