Saturday, December 10, 2022
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Gilding The Cage Of Suburbia: Farewelling ‘Neighbours’ – OpEd

Soap show experts will be interested in the statistics of Australia’s longest-running drama series about a sickeningly lovely suburb. Starting in 1985, there were 37 seasons and 5,955 episodes. Neighbours was required viewing despite its anaemic plotlines, shoddy acting, and emphasis on ideals guaranteed to give viewers the stomach flu. Neighbours was a fetish and cult, a shrine and a devotion, especially for British viewers.

In addition, it gave a variety of musicians and actors their first opportunities to shine on the international stage, which for most Australians refers to the UK or the US: Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia in pop; Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce, Margot Robbie in acting.

Ramsay Street, in the imaginary Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough with an equally fake, semi-tropical climate, tried to keep things lamentably intriguing throughout its run. Drownings, accidents involving aircraft, and required bushfires have all occurred. There was Charlene (Minogue) and Scott’s wedding (Jason Donovan). Even in a dream, the dogs Bouncer and Rosie—the canine neighbors—were involved in another horrible wedding.

Over time, the programme has generated a dizzying diversity of research and viewpoints, leaving Australian commentators to question what their own residents think of the drama. It has given the cultural vice squads based in academia something for thought as they look for examples of racism or a lack of diversity. It has given pundits the opportunity to stir up controversy about a pointless scheme. The current prevalent perception of the programme is that it represents suburban white heterosexuality that has not developed.

According to academics Juliet Watson and Sarah Casey, there are lavish attempts to find positive “representations of gender, sexuality, and feminism.” Take Minogue’s Charlene Mitchell as an example. She had the mentality that “girls can do anything” and was the mechanic bucking gendered occupational expectations. Neighbours also gave birth to the program’s first trans character in 2019 and “its first non-binary character, Asher Nesmith, played by non-binary performer Kathleen Ebbs” in the program’s last year. How incredibly contemporary.

If the series were to be analysed in a single moment, the nightmare suburbia that Arthur Koestler so deftly mocked during his tour to Australia would immediately come to mind. The polymath scholar made the observation that, despite its wide landscapes and ocean beaches, “Australia can give the tourist a feeling of claustrophobia” during a trip to the “faceless continent.”

He observed the crazed migration of citizens from the city to the countryside already in 1969. While acknowledging that the same tendency could also be seen in Europe and the US, Koestler thought Australia went above and beyond in its efforts. Urban culture is being supplanted by suburban society, so much so that “the entire concept of the city is beginning to lose its meaning.”

He also noticed a conformism that resulted in widespread loneliness among Australian crowds. They smelled like loneliness, which he could smell “on the bus, at the pub, at the races, and on the beach,” according to his nose.

Neighbors makes an effort to combat loneliness and thereby gilds the suburban cage. It brings with it a provincial, sentimental reading of Australia’s brutal urban environment. Fantastically, it implies that there are neighbours who care with a dedication that borders on being intrusive and who you would truly like to know rather than view with distrust.

For UK and international viewers, Philippa Burne, who occasionally writes for the series, might say that, despite how dull that suburbia is, “it’s a quiet, wealthy life where you can spend half the day at the pub and yet pay the mortgage and not be a drunk.”

You might say hello to your doctor, who lived next door, said Ian Smith, who both performed the part of Harold Bishop and contributed to the script. You may use his first name to address him. He would occasionally visit your pool, and you would occasionally go to his. All of these items were unheard of in the UK. Smith might have a special affection for doctors that others don’t.

In fact, the fence, the border, and the separation are crucial in an affluent culture, where people are self-centered and worried that another family, who lives nearby, would intrude and cause trouble. In a frontier civilization where territory was taken from people and their native occupants were killed, such attitudes are sure to be prevalent.

Since the founding of the Commonwealth in 1901, this aspect of Australia’s existence has been exploited by the nation’s white bread demagogues. Although solidarity is not unheard of in the Australian suburbia, any demonstration of it is overstated. Disasters like cyclones, bushfires, or floods are typically necessary to promote it. Thankfully, there will be plenty of opportunities for the people of this island continent to demonstrate abundant compassion in the future. Otherwise, the typical Australian home is a jail with barricades as guards, a line drawn to deter invaders.

The soap’s funding arrangements were ultimately what brought it to an end. A significant portion of the money came from UK sources as a result of Britain’s preoccupation with Neighbours. The UK’s Channel 5 declared this year that it would be reducing supply, therefore it would not last. The business acknowledged that many people will be saddened by the cancellation of the show, but it also recommended investing in UK drama. We acknowledge that this choice will cause sadness, but our present priority is to increase our investment in original UK drama, which is very popular with our audience.

In addition, the country’s audience had fallen from a high of 20 million regular viewers to a meagre million. Audiences had also decreased in Australia. After tens of thousands of episodes, the show only managed to draw in 100,000 people per day on Channel Ten.

The patient could be placed on a type of life support, according to FremantleMedia, in the hopes of receiving an infusion of essential, life-sustaining fluids. An email from the corporation read, “Our audience remains consistent and Channel 10 would love the show to continue if we could find another broadcaster partner to replace C5.”

Unfortunately for fans of this depiction of Australian suburbia, Channel 5’s departure left a void that was simply too wide to fill. No other TV company was eager to fund the fiction. After the final episode, which aired on July 28, this fictional Melbourne location has been closed down and relegated to the world of television soap operas. The children in the UK will need to focus their attention elsewhere, as they largely have already done.

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