No Award watches: Cleverman 1.04

This week on Cleverman, Stephanie yells ‘Nobody needs this’ half a dozen times, Latani and Alinta are our faves, and there is no Deborah Mailman.

Liz: Three Renowned Indigenous Stage Actors out of Five

Steph: Four Renowned Indigenous Stage Actors out of Five

We’re not sure if we’ll be able to post reviews for eps 5+6 immediately after, as Steph is on a plane RIGHT NOW and we’re not sure of her viewing capabilities in Germany and Poland, so the next review might be a combined one later in July.

This gifset sums up everything we love about Latani

No Award’s Feelpinions:


I’m so sick of Jorah Mormont. Liz and I spend every episode hoping that he’ll die at the end of the season, and I am always reminded of an interview I saw recently with Danai Gurira, who’s got an all-Black play on Broadway. In it she talks about how, if you have a cast of 95% non-white, and 5% white – the focus will be all on that white person.

I THINK ABOUT THAT EVERY EPISODE. I’m trying to have faith in the excellent range of Aboriginal peeps involved in Cleverman, though. SO. But I am super fucken sick of Jorah Mormont, and I’m getting real annoyed with the waste of Frances O’Conner, delight of my 14 year old heart.

Anyway in other news, we had two significant deaths (Ash, Marcus Graham), and despite the gradual lady-heaviness of the episodes, I’m worried about what this will mean. (Latani was great, as was Alinta – I hope something comes of her excellence)

I love that we got to see the Namarrador, even only in picture form. And maybe Waruu is getting a clue? Or maybe not. I can’t even tell anymore.


This episode kept coming back to the patriarchy: Araluen is sexually exploited by a white man (with the assistance of white women); Koen tells Ash that women are forbidden to touch the Cleverman’s nulla nulla; the trainer in the Zone refuses to teach Latani; Waruu tells Slade that Belinda will be vulnerable in the Zone because he’s a woman.

The other strand of patriarchy is an omission: Djukara — who, it turns out, looks weirdly like Nick Cave when he’s shaved down — is obsessed with finding his father, but doesn’t seem especially concerned that his mother is still, as far as he knows, in a separate prison somewhere.

I am a little concerned that this is playing into stereotypes about sexist black men, but I’m not remotely in a position to discuss that with any knowledge or authority. I just observe, and wait for someone who knows more to talk about it. In some ways, I’m not even sure if this subtext about misogyny and sexism is intentional — because we also have Ash dying, and Kora is so far little more than a Manic Pixie Dead Girl.

(Query: do women of colour ever get to be Manic Pixie Dream Girls? Or is that one of those archetypes that’s problematic and repetitive for white women, but actually an unusual type of role for a woman of colour?)

I’m more sanguine about Ash’s death than I usually am about female characters being fridged, because she wasn’t an especially interesting or compelling character, or even significant to the plot beyond offering a sounding board for Koen. I’m displeased, but I also feel like a character who isn’t working should be removed as quickly as possible.

Speaking of: I appreciate Iain Glen’s work as the season’s human big bad (like, the Minister is totes going to be in his pocket, right?), but I’m quite bored of his shenanigans and Frances O’Connor’s infertility subplot. I expect her Secret Patented Special IVF Procedure will turn out to involve the Hairies in some way (either that, or she’ll give birth to a Leda clone), but it’s just dragging out soooooo looooooong and taking up time that would be better spent with Alinta and Djukara (FIGHTING CRIME!) or Latani (LEARNING TO FIGHT CRIME and also media exploitation of tragedy!) or the criminally absent Deborah Mailman.


  • The Minister continues to be disgusting, obviously.
  • So into Latani vs the patriarchy.
  • “You’d be amazed at what we can do under this legislation.”
  • Leeanna Walsman is having a good year — this, Janet King. Who would have thought that Carly Bishop from the Looking for Alibrandi movie would turn into such a solid supporting player?
  • …actually, she was really good in that movie, why are we even surprised?
  • Maliyan is making metal versions of traditional Indigenous tools and weapons. Is that Steelpunk? Rustpunk? Anyway, we’re into it.
  • Liz is impressed that we have a subplot about rape and sexual exploitation that doesn’t have any nudity or graphic scenes. Could do with less creepy neck kissing, though.

2 thoughts on “No Award watches: Cleverman 1.04

  1. From the persistence of marketing (esp. US but I don’t actually see Aus marketing so maybe we’re just as bad) I have been expecting Iain Glen to come good, or at least remain ambiguous, but nope, just getting more sinister. Which… well, I’m finding it sort of hilarious that the big get-the-white-audience-in-with-someone-they-identify-with is… the bad guy. (Accurate, but also hilarious.)

    I’m pretty tetchy about the Ash-fridging. Because it’s so same-old, but also I think if she and best-mate-Blair’s roles in that were reversed it would give more challenge to both her and Koen in have to deal with their stuff moving forward.

    Weirdly, I’m also kinda meh about the Minister developments. I just feel like his fetish undermines the fact that there are horrible, terrible, inhumane people in government. (That people are awful because they are, not because they’re covering or overcompensating. Sometimes there isn’t a Reason. Sometimes people are just racist xenophobic arseholes.)

    Very up for infinity more of Alinta being the brains of the operation. That girl is the goods.

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