Lately I’ve been binge-watching Australian television. I’ve watched a couple of police procedurals, one naval drama, and a period mystery drama. Right now I’m watching a medical drama. On deck is a legal drama, Rake, which was adapted into a drama of the same name on American television.
By and large I find the writing and acting in Australian television superior to their American counterparts. I find just too much mugging among young American actors. I think the better writing might be attributable to how American television is written. In general network American television programs are written by committee. That’s something that goes back to radio days.
I learn something in practically every show I watch. There’s the local color, of course. Some of their problems are the same. For example, they have a problem with illegal immigration. However, unlike ours most of their illegal immigration is apparently from East Asia or East Timor. They have their own Vietnam veterans with many of the same problems as our Vietnam vets live with.
Their medical problems are a bit different. For example, cystic fibrosis is apparently much more prevalent in Australia than it is here. I suspect that’s because of the Irish population—about 1 in 19 Irishmen carry the trait, the highest rate in the world.
The real difference is a consequence of the difference in their healthcare system. They have a national health system somewhat similar to Britain’s which coexists with a private system. If the show is any gauge, “Do we have the funding to treat this individual?” is as important a question as “How do we treat this individual?” and hospital crowding is chronic.
I’m still looking around for a good Aussie sitcom to cut my teeth on. Maybe someone can offer some suggestions. Humor may not translate as well as drama.
One more thing: so far in my watching I’ve seen exactly one lead actor of aboriginal descent. My, but he was a good-looking guy! You can see how he made it.