Redfern is an inner-city suburb of Sydney located about 3 kilometres south of the CBD. At one point in time, Redfern had a bad reputation but this was, in my opinion, mainly due to prejudice towards housing commission residents. In recent years, the area has been subject to extensive redevelopment by the state government, to increase the population and reduce the concentration of poverty. Despite the fact that 50.8% of the population were born overseas, Redfern is mainly known for its thriving aboriginal community. It is this community that is the subject of the award-winning show Redfern Now.
Redfern Now is the first television drama series to be written, directed and produced by indigenous Australians. The show consists of two six episode seasons as well as a telemovie and has won numerous AACTA and Logie awards, including Most Outstanding Drama Series, Best Editing in Television and Most Outstanding Actor and Actress. With an incredibly talented cast and crew, every one of these awards are well-deserved.
Where the average drama series is like a novel, with each episode a different chapter in the overall story, Redfern Now more resembles a collection of short stories, with each episode a tightly contained story of its own; and, just as a short story is more raw, more confronting, more emotional than its longer counterpart, so Redfern Now highlights issues we may wish to pretend don’t exist.
Addressing difficult and often controversial topics, this series is definitely not for the easily offended. From homosexuality to child custody; from parenting methods to deaths in custody; from inter-racial relationships to domestic violence to crime to gambling to shell-shock to whether or not to sing the National Anthem; each episode presents a moral dilemma and forces us to face what can sometimes be enormous consequences to seemingly insignificant decisions.
These days we watch so much film and television that most of us have grown skilled at building a barrier between ourselves and the screen. We have become de-sensitized. That isn’t to say we feel nothing, but the tears, the anger, the joy are shallow; they float on the surface. Redfern Now is one of the few shows that manage to burrow through those walls and elicit genuine, gut-wrenching emotion. It is as though we are secretly watching real people living real lives rather than a fictional, albeit topical, TV series.
Every episode of Redfern Now deals with an important issue that is relevant to modern society. Some of the issues covered are specific to Aboriginal Australians, but many are problems that plague all levels of society. Either way, we find we can relate to the characters portrayed and imagine ourselves or our loved ones enduring similar circumstances.
Redfern Now is a long overdue exploration of the lives of modern urban indigenous Australians. The acting is spectacular, the writing is incredible and every episode will leave you with a deeper understanding of the issues covered. Just make sure to have some tissues handy, because you are going to need them.