Bad Mothers
Australian and New Zealand TV

Review: Bad Mothers 1×1 (Australia: Nine)

In Australia: Mondays, 9pm, Nine
In the UK: Not yet acquired

“I’m mad as Hell and not going to take this anymore” may be Network‘s best known line, but it could also be a motto for the #MeToo movement. TV companies around the world naturally want to take advantage of this female anger at the nature of modern society, either (optimistically) because they too feel the rage or (cynically) they want to cash in on the ratings.

Bad Mothers – which is no way related to or as funny as the movie of the same name – airs on the usually female-friendly Nine network in Australia and is co-created by Rachel Lang (Outrageous Fortune, Hyde & Seek, Westside, The Blue Rose, The Almighty Johnsons), so you’d hope the former optimistic answer was the root cause of the show. But if it is rage at societal expectations of mothers to be perfect and self-sacrificing, it’s quite an unfocused rage, one largely directed at other women for some reason.

The show sees Tess Haubrich (Wolf Creek, Pine Gap) playing regular mum Sarah, who’s starting to suspect that husband Daniel MacPherson (Strike Back) is having an affair with his personal trainer Shalom Brune-Franklin (Our Girl, Doctor, Doctor). However, when she turns up at the gym, she spots he’s actually having an affair with her best friend Melissa George (In Treatment, Hunted, Heart Beat). She takes solace with fellow mums at the school her children attend. Cue lots of drinking, setting fire to MacPherson’s clothes, vandalism of George’s car and abduction of dogs.

However, things take a turn when George is found murdered and first Haubrich then MacPherson becomes the police’s prime suspect. Can this group of mums solve the crime and find out who really killed George? And how much red wine will then need to drink together to do it?

Melissa George in Bad Mothers
Melissa George in Bad Mothers

Bad feminism

There is a lot of hate going on round here, but surprisingly little for men. As soon as things get a bit tricky between the married couple because of MacPherson’s having an affair, jokes pop up to deflect the conflict and to turn the problem back onto Haubrich. Gaslighting, maybe, but the show’s real bile always seems reserved for other women.

George, admittedly, isn’t the most popular of actresses in Australia following her un-Aussie rant, but the show and she do go out of their way to make her as unlikable and as anti-female solidarity as possible – a mother more interested in herself than others, who’ll have an affair with her best friend’s husband, who’s rich, spoilt and has a stupid little dog, who never has time for anyone else and who seems permanently medicated/drunk. I mean, obviously, she’s got to be as murder-worthy as possible for as many people as possible, but the show does take the path of least resistance to get there.

There’s also the constant exchange of bitchy lines about physique between Brune-Franklin and Haubrich, and Brune-Franklin’s delight in other women’s misfortune. On top of that, there’s the other women in the group of five (Hyde & Seek‘s Mandy McElhinney and Wolf Creek‘s Jessica Tovey) who are very keen to start metaphorically stabbing away at other women as soon as possible (and vice versa). There’s also the constant one-upwomanship in the mothering. Of course, they may all club together and learn the power of female emancipation and friendship by the end, but that’s not the message yet – or from the trailer for the rest of the series.

All of which makes Bad Mothers less of a #MeToo than it probably hopes, more a Mothers Behaving Badly meets The Bletchley Circle. A little bit of quite tame rebellion, a little bit of solidarity, but mostly women a bit miffed and trying to solve a crime, all to be resolved with a return to something just a little bit better than the status quo was.

Don Hany in Bad Mothers
Don Hany in Bad Mothers

Bad opening

As of yet, we don’t have a real taste for how good the murder-solving aspect of the show is going to be, though. We’ve also lost the show’s best and most famous actress (Gilbert) and haven’t yet deployed the show’s best actor and most famous actor (Don Hany of East West 101/Serangoon Road fame), making this initial episode decidedly inauspicious and alienating.

Things might perk up and become more coherent in later episodes, but as of yet, there’s nothing really to recommend about Bad Mothers. It’s not that funny, it’s not especially taboo-breaking, it doesn’t have much of a message, it doesn’t have any great characters and it doesn’t really advance #MeToo in any way.

Dare I even say it’s… bad?

Nightflyers
News

Nightflyers, Man in the High Castle cancelled; Schooled acquired; + more

Every weekday, TMINE brings you the latest TV news from around the world

Internet TV

  • Amazon cancels: The Man in the High Castle
  • Netflix green lights: series of global pandemic comedy Medical Police, with Erinn Hayes and Rob Huebel, Malin Akerman, Lake Bell, Rob Corddry et al to guest
  • Alicia Witt to recur on Netflix’s Zelda

UK TV

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

The Umbrella Academy
Internet TV

Boxset Tuesday: The Umbrella Academy (season one) (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

Alan Moore’s Watchmen is probably the best, most influential superhero comic of all time. An examination of the underlying assumptions and psychology of people who would put on masks to fight crime, it almost single-handedly (bar Denny O’Neil) made superheroes ‘real’ – or about as realistic as they ever could be, of course.

But it’s a very dense text and while you can remove certain elements of it relatively easily – bye, bye pirates! – try to unpick it too much and you lose Watchmen‘s intrinsic field: what makes Watchmen what it is. Small wonder then that Hollywood spent forever trying to adapt it before essentially making a frame by frame adaptation of the comic, just with a slightly different McGuffin.

Heaven knows what HBO’s ‘freer’ adaptation will be like.

That density of writing means that despite its influence being felt throughout comics and TV, there have been very few straight-on ‘homages’ (aka rip-offs). Nobody has done ‘Watchmen in space’, ‘Watchmen on Middle Earth’ or anything else.

Until now. Because now, thanks to The Umbrella Academy, we have ‘Watchmen with super-powered kids’.

Continue reading “Boxset Tuesday: The Umbrella Academy (season one) (Netflix)”

US TV

Review: Doom Patrol 1×1 (US: DC Universe)

In the US: Fridays, DC Universe
In the UK: Not yet acquired

At the start of the 90s, DC’s Vertigo imprint of adult-oriented comics was a powerhouse of creativity – one largely powered by Brits. Many of the titles took existing characters and gave them new depth. Swamp Thing had been about a relatively ordinary, second-tier character – a man turned into swampy beast – but in Alan Moore’s hands, Swamp Thing became a swampy beast that just thought it had once been a man but that was actually the embodiment of nature – a Green Man.

John Constantine had been a guest character in Swamp Thing whom Jamie Delano turned into the embodiment of British working class street cool, punk and post-punk anger, and rage against Thatcherite injustice in Hellblazer. Peter Milligan’s Shade The Changing Man saw an alien poet in a coat of madness critiquing American society, while Neil Gaiman’s Sandman gave us deities, dreams and re-examinations of magic and history.

Among this mix was Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, which rebooted an exceedingly second-tier group of misfits and turned them into something vastly more interesting. Morrison’s embrace of dadaism transformed the comic into something extraordinary, with (literally) two-dimensional characters who can drain people’s sanity, paintings that could eat cities, a street that was actually a superhero and more.

Doom Patrol Grant Morrison

All of which made it an odd choice to be nascent streaming service DC Universe’s second piece of original programming. To be fair, its first, Titans, with its motley collection of sidekicks, was an odd choice, too, and it turned out great. But Doom Patrol? How were they going to capture in a TV show all the things that made the comic something more than just a bunch of rubbish superheroes facing relatively rubbish challenges?

The quick answer is: they didn’t. The longer answer is: they didn’t… until the final five minutes of the first episode.

Continue reading “Review: Doom Patrol 1×1 (US: DC Universe)”

I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
BAFTA events

What TV’s on at BAFTA in March? Including I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

Every week or so, TMINE flags up what new TV events BAFTA is holding around the UK

Finally! After weeks of additions to February’s line-up, BAFTA’s finally letting us know at least some of what it’s going to give us in March. There’s two events so far, both focused on behind the scenes.

I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

BAFTA Masterclass: I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

Monday, 11 March 2019 – 7:00pm
Princess Anne Theatre, 195 Piccadilly, London

Hear from the team behind the BAFTA-winning programme who will share their insights on bringing the hit reality show to our screens.

On the back of their 18th season in the jungle, officially the most watched series in the show’s history, our I’m A Celebrity… panel will re-live some of their best moments. We’ll celebrate the craft of the show, from casting, to Bushtucker trials, to how the team keep the show fresh and inventive, offering you the inside track on the making of this much loved show. Full panel to be announced.

Book tickets

Zai Bennett

Meet the Commissioners: Sky Channels

Friday, 15 March 2019 – 9:00am
David Lean Room, 195 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LN

An exclusive opportunity to hear from the commissioning team across Sky’s portfolio of channels on their programming priorities and plans for the year ahead.

The senior team at Sky, led by Director of Programmes Zai Bennett, will discuss their content plans and share their ‘wishlists’ across a host of genres – drama, entertainment, comedy, arts and children’s and their views on how to resonate with their audiences.

Sky’s investment and commitment to original programming is at an all-time high. The team will drill down into recent commissions, as well as look to the future and talk through their ambitions for the channels, covering how they like to work with producers and support and attract on and off screen talent.

Speakers:

  • Zai Bennett is Director of Programmes, Sky Entertainment UK and Ireland
  • Cameron Roach is Acting Head of Drama
  • Jon Montague, Head of Sky Comedy
  • Lucy Murphy, Head of Kids Content
  • Phil Edgar Jones, Director of Sky Arts and Head of Entertainment and Arts Commissioning

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