Ready for This

Back in October, I reviewed the first episode of ABC Indigenous teen drama Ready for This.

I said:

If you enjoyed Dance Academy, or if you like contemporary YA, or if you have fond memories of Heartbreak High, this is a Jolly Good Series.  Some of the acting is a bit ropey, as happens with teen dramas starring actual young adults, and some of the dialogue is on the nose, as happens any time an Australian sits down to write a script.  It’s not perfect.  But it’s good.

The first (and, unless the Renewal Fairy works her magic, only) season has just come out on DVD, so this seems like a good time to look at the series as a whole, and whether or not it maintained the promise of its first episode.

Ahem:

OMG EVERY CHARACTER IS A PERFECT CINNAMON ROLL, TOO GOOD FOR THIS WORLD, TOO PURE, I LOVE EVERYTHING THIS SHOW CHOOSES TO BE, AND THERE IS A QUEER RELATIONSHIP I DID NOT SEE COMING, BUT THERE ARE GIRLS COURTING VIA ROLLER DERBY AND IT IS THE MOST PERFECT THING EVER EVEN THE TOKEN WHITE BOY IS AMAZING

Er, quite.

Look, it’s not actually perfect.  There’s an episode where the boys — Dylan, Levi and white boy Reece — engage in a bit of extremely mild trespassing and have a run-in with the cops.  Dylan mouths off, citing the Fifth Amendment and Miranda rights, and he and Levi end up being taken to the station, while Reece is told to go home to his mum.

(This is particularly harsh because Reece is the only one of the three who doesn’t have his mum in his life — one of the ironies the show deals with is that it’s the white kid who has the most dysfunctional background.)

That’s all great, but then … nothing comes of it?  Dylan and Levi are picked up, taken home and get a bit of a telling off, but no one says anything about the double standard in the way they’re treated.  It just hangs there.

That’s really the only dud note the show hits.  There was one other thing I didn’t care for, regarding the way Ava’s story winds up after her mother catches her kissing a girl — forbidding her to do her final exam at music school — but I understand that Ava’s story is about finding herself and her confidence, rather than institutional recognition of her skills.

Aaron-McGrath-_LEVI__-Madeleine-Madden-_ZOE__-Liam-Talty-_DYLAN__-Majeda-Beatty-_AVA__-Leonie-Whyman-_LILY__-Christian-Byers-_REECE_-READY-FOR-THIS

What I loved was seeing all the different kinds of families in this show.  There’s the found family of the main cast, with Lasarus Ratuere and Christine Anu as the surrogate parents.  They even adopt Reece when they realise he’s living at school because his home situation is untenable.

But then there are the kids’ biological families, which include roles we don’t often see for Indigenous people:

  • Dylan’s father is a prominent Torres Strait Islander politician, who teaches his son traditional dances, sent him to one of Brisbane’s top private schools, and expects him to be a violin prodigy;
  • Zoe comes from a big, loud, loving family, and her dad struggles with the fact that he’s no longer her coach;
  • Levi’s mother is a forthright professional who encourages her son to be ambitious, whereas his dad is just out of jail, but the opposite of a deadbeat — a decent guy who has made some bad decisions, and is how working hard to be part of his son’s life;
  • Lily’s mother recently died, and she’s keeping her father at arm’s length, but both remain a palpable presence in her life;
  • Ava has a forceful, Christian mother and a lot of supportive, loving cousins.
  • And then there’s Reece, whose dad took off, whose mother has had a string of terrible boyfriends, and whose grandparents — with whom he’s meant to be living — don’t seem to care where he is or what he’s doing.

As I said, the white kid gets the most dysfunctional background, but there’s a constant thread of realism, in that everyone is just doing their best to do the right thing.

Except, you know, Reece’s mum’s boyfriend.  And his mum.  And his grandparents.

Reece is a wonderful character, though: he’s aware of his white privilege, but still makes mistakes, apologises for them and learns, and is generally a good person.  Someone said, regarding Poe Dameron, that if the future of the Square Jawed Hero is a guy who is kind and generous, that’s okay with her — likewise, I feel like, if we’re going to have prominent white guy characters, they should be like Reece.

But you could say that about any of the regulars: they try, they make mistakes, they learn, they keep going.  They deal with a variety of issues, both timeless — academic and sporting success, bullying and personality clashes — and current, such as Lily becoming the target of online bullying after a boy takes a demeaning picture of her and posts it without her consent.

Overall, while it could certainly have been more overtly intersectional on some issues, Ready for This brought both earnestness and fun to its characters and storylines.  (And, frankly, I feel a bit meanspirited, dinging it for not being 100% perfect, when the next big thing in Australian YA TV is this series about white LGBT kids.  I mean, literally the only non-white character is Rafiq, the main character’s nemesis.  I’m quite appalled.)

My main complaint about Ready for This is about what it didn’t get — without the overseas funding that Dance Academy enjoyed, it’s a lot cheaper, and didn’t enjoy a fraction of the promotion that other ABC3 shows receive.  Is this because it’s about black kids, or because it’s not likely to be a big international hit?  But if it’s the latter, isn’t it the fact that it’s about black kids part of the reason for its narrower appeal?

And, of course, it only got one season so far — it was in Dance Academy‘s second season that the marketing really took off.

For this reason, I’m buying the DVD and am doing my best to support the various artists whose music appeared in the show — many of whom are of ATSI background themselves.  (I had predicted a Jessica Mauboy cameo, but got Ngaiire instead.  No complaints, though, I love Ngaiire.)  Many are still in the early stages of their careers, but I’ve put what I can into a playlist on Spotify: the Ready for This unOST.

I doubt I can singlehandedly bully the ABC into creating more Ready for This, but I’m determined to try — or at least to ensure that the next teen drama about Indigenous kids gets an audience, and the one after that, and the one after that.

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Six white linkspams! (Snow white linkspams!)

Men explain Lolita to me

But I was serious about this. You read enough books in which people like you are disposable, or are dirt, or are silent, absent, or worthless, and it makes an impact on you. Because art makes the world, because it matters, because it makes us. Or breaks us.

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‘We speak English in this country’: Victim of racist rant tracks woman who defended her (has autoplay)

Nope, Still Not OK: Absolutely Fabulous’ Yellowface Casting

These forgotten female crime writers had no time for femme fatales or dowdy housewives

This article assumes, annoyingly, that its readers don’t speak or read Chinese, but this is super interesting regardless: The long, incredibly tortuous, and fascinating process of creating a Chinese font. (So ridiculously over dramatic, come on quokkas)

On home workers: A huge underclass of ghost workers are making your shirts in their homes

CAH has a third party factory in China, usual shitty conditions, so I was surprised to read this: Cards Against Humanity gives its entire Chinese workforce a holiday

While our factory provides excellent wages and working conditions, Chinese working conditions are generally more strict. This year, we used the money from one day of our holiday promotion to give our workers something very uncommon in China: a paid vacation.

The printer didn’t have any formal procedures for paid vacations, so we bought 100% of the factory’s capacity and paid them to produce nothing for a week, giving the people who make Cards Against Humanity an unexpected chance to visit family or do whatever they pleased.

How to Not Ruin the Holidays for your Fat Friends and Family

The cast of next year’s J K Rowling-penned Harry Potter play has been announced … and Noma Dumezweni is playing Hermione.  Spoilers: she is not white.

We at No Award think it’s pretty cool that JKR has gone from reading and faving articles about racebending and PoC headcanons in HP to actually casting a woman of colour.  And Dumezweni has been quite amazing in the few things Liz has seen her in.

(Doctor Who.  I’ve seen her in Doctor Who.)

Melbourne MP includes a black baby Jesus in her nativity display, people respond with racism.  Wait ’til you see their faces when they realise Jesus was a Middle Eastern refugee, eh?

An Unbelievable Story of Rape.  A compelling long read about a serial rapist, and the particular case of one of his victims, a girl who had just left foster care, who was treated remarkably differently to the middle class women who were also attacked.

The Skies Belong To Us: How Hijackers Created An Airline Crisis In the 1970s.  Remember that episode of Daria where Jane jokes about hijacking a plane?  Talk about things that wouldn’t fly (ahahahaha) in a post 9/11 world.

Christmas in Australia means one thing: Cricket.

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Southerly

For its second number in 2016, Southerly will be producing an issue, co-edited by David Brooks and Andy Jackson, on Writing and Disability, and we are seeking contributions in all our usual fields – poetry, short fiction, essay, review, memoir, etc. Both physical and psychological disability will be considered – visible and invisible – and disability will be interpreted widely within these areas. The co-editors do not wish to limit contributions in any way. They do note, however, that the area of writing and disability is significantly under-theorised, especially in the Australian context, and hope that this publication might make some contribution in this area.

Deadline: June 30th 2016

The Bit About Star Wars

John Boyega’s Response to White Tears is the Blackest Thing I’ve Ever Heard This Week

Emo Kylo Ren feels like a throwback to fandom c2002 in the best way possible.

Spotify has some truly outstanding official Star Wars playlists.

Seriously thinking about Gross White People Business as a new tag here at No Award

Meet the Kleptogastromaniacs, Customers Hooked on High-End-Food Theft

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Bendigo mosque appeal thrown out of court

Ms Hoskin, who refused to comment to the media after the Court of Appeal judgment was handed down, tumbled down the steps outside court after the verdict, and had to be given first aid treatment for a suspected broken ankle.

She was helped into a taxi by members of the media, after refusing an ambulance.

On Wednesday morning, the court rejected the residents’ claims that the mosque would bring negative social effects to Bendigo. The judges said Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights protected freedom of religion, and said the mere practice of religious worship could not be considered to be an adverse “social effect”.

KARMA

This isn’t necessarily a Gross White Person Story, but it does involve terrible ginger hipster boys, and also chocolate fraud.  YES, CHOCOLATE FRAUD.

From there, Liz fell into a chocolate fraud spiral (totes a thing), and discovered the same blogger’s 2006 expose of the world’s most expensive chocolate as, well, a badly tempered, repackaged wholesale product.

(If reading that has left you curious about the world of bean to bar chocolate, and you’re in Melbourne, turns out Haigh’s has been doing bean to bar since before these whippersnappers came along.)

(Chocolate fraud is also a great topic if you love reading investigative journalism, but aren’t in the mood for crime or, you know, anything where people are seriously hurt.)

Doctor Who 9.11, 9.12 and 9.13: “Face the Raven”, “Heaven Sent”, “Hell Bent”

I could have done these in individual posts, but I’ll be honest: I was busy, I was tired, I couldn’t be bothered.  The three preceding episodes were so offensively terrible, they managed to pretty much destroy my enthusiasm for season 9.

It’s a shame, because “Face the Raven” was genuinely outstanding, and not just because it advanced a strong anti-birb agenda.  And “Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent” were both quite good, even though I nearly noped out when —

But I get ahead of myself.

Continue reading “Doctor Who 9.11, 9.12 and 9.13: “Face the Raven”, “Heaven Sent”, “Hell Bent””

Doctor Who 9.07 and 9.08: “The Zygon Invasion” and “The Zygon Inversion”

It’s amazing.  I haven’t disliked a Doctor Who story/serial/episode this much since Russell T Davies was at the helm.  And for much the same reason I didn’t care for a lot of RTD’s work: a hamfisted attempt at social commentary coupled with carelessness about subtext creates an unpleasant and alienating story.

Continue reading “Doctor Who 9.07 and 9.08: “The Zygon Invasion” and “The Zygon Inversion””

Doctor Who 9.05 and 9.06 – “The Girl Who Died” and “The Woman Who Lived”

How great is Maisie Williams, eh?  People are saying it’s a shame she’s too busy with Game of Thrones to be the next companion, but I say, wait until she’s 40, then she can be the sixteenth Doctor.

I probably didn’t need to review this as a two-parter — synchronicity of titles aside, these episodes didn’t have to be consecutive — but hey, I didn’t know that until it was too late.

(Beyond the cut are discussions of alleged spoilers published in the UK tabloid press — emphasis on “alleged”.)

Continue reading “Doctor Who 9.05 and 9.06 – “The Girl Who Died” and “The Woman Who Lived””

No Award watches stuff: Ready for This

We love an Aussie YA TV series here at No Award, and we also love Indigenous media.  So bring on Ready for This, an ABC3 series about five Indigenous teens from around Australia, who all excel in various fields — “various” here meaning “music” and “sport” — coming to live at a Sydney boarding house while they study.

And, spoilers, it’s pretty great.

Continue reading “No Award watches stuff: Ready for This”