Thursday, March 10, 2011

Whores are people, too, and a few other things I'm learning from watching TV in Australia

Oh, the things I missed living in Argentina for four and a half years: cranberry juice, customer service, good hip hop in public spaces and Secret Diary of a Call Girl, the UK TV series which, apparently, was a big hit when it debuted in the U.S. on Showtime nearly three years ago. Thankfully, I now have my Australian friends to sort me out, and it's one of the things they all seem to be raving about at the moment. (It airs on the recently launched GEM TV channel here, and the first two seasons are available on DVD.) Have you seen it? Well, now, thank God, I have.

It's Sex and the City (London, not New York) with a lot more sex and no girlfriends. I guess I should be up in arms that it totally glamorizes the world's oldest profession, but I'm not. In fact, for a brief moment, a few minutes into the second episode, I was contemplating a career change.

Things I immediately loved about the show: 1) As protagonist Hannah/Belle (her working name), Billie Piper, the former squeaky-clean British pop star and sidekick in the Doctor Who TV series, makes a pretty convincing high-class prostitute who is likable and sympathetic without falling into that hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Pretty Woman cliché. 2) The bitch-on-sky-high-heels agent. I'd take her over any of the girls in her stable. 3) Daniel, the cute client who brought Hannah out after Belle failed to get him off. If only he hadn't disappeared after that first episode.

The actors and actresses on Home and Away are better-looking and all-around better than the ones on Neighbours (and they put a lot of the U.S. soap stars to shame, too). Australians are so fixated abroad when it comes to entertainment. "We don't have many celebrities," a friend told me over beers at the Railway Hotel last Sunday afternoon. Celebrities, perhaps, but there are plenty of talented Australian thespians, and a lot of them are breaking out in the U.S.?: Sam Worthington (Avatar and Clash of the Titans), Chris Hemsworth (the upcoming Thor), Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song and former love of costar Miley Cyrus's life), Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), Grant Bowler (Ugly Betty), Isla Fisher (Rango), Mia Wasikowska (The Kids Are All Right and Alice in Wonderland), and Rachael Taylor (soon to break big -- executive producer Drew Barrymore hopes -- in the Charlie's Angels reboot).

Women don't cook -- or at least they can't seem to make a killing doing it. The Australian morning news shows are pretty bad: Not one of the anchors can hold a candle to Matt Lauer (Today) or Robin Roberts (Good Morning America), and the programs lose credibility every time one of those infomercials for products that will give you great abs for minimal exertion pop up. But if you're looking for the perfect recipe, you're in luck. Every weekday morning at 9am, following Today on GEM, UK-expatriate celebrity chef James Reeson gets my mouth watering with Alive and Cooking. Which makes me wonder, why are so many celebrity chefs male? It's the same way in the U.S. Julia Child and Rachael Ray aside, I can't think of a single lady who made her fortune slaving over a hot stove. Even Martha Stewart had to furiously multi-task to ascend the ladder of domestic success.

Pulp Fiction was robbed. The 1994 rivals for the Best Picture Oscar, Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction, aired over the weekend on Aussie TV. Guess which one has aged better. John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and especially Bruce Willis were all even better than I'd remembered.

'80s fever is still a pandemic. If the posters around town advertising Gary Numan's upcoming Melbourne concert, or the soundtrack in so many bars around town didn't tip me off, last night's Mazda CX9 commercial did: As in Argentina, the '80s revival is still in full swing down under. Playing in the background as the family in the TV ad ooh'd and aah'd over its new wheels: Oz band Eurogliders' great 1984 hit "Heaven (Must Be There)." I'll have one of those!

Post a Comment