Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Go Back To Where You Came From: Must See TV
Few Canadian ever get a chance to watch much Australian TGV.
But there's a series from Down Under running Thursdays on TVOntario that positively ranks as must-see TV.
Titled Go Back To Where You Came From it poignantly depicts the plight of refugees from the Middle East and Asia through the experiences of native Australians.
You'll watch and wonder why there hasn't been a Canadian spin off although it might generate too much controversy.
The series debuted on Australian TV in 2011 and has since gone through three seasons.
I watched the first episode in a state of high tension.
The series is on the face of it a bit of a reality TV outing but there's nothing silly or shallow about the subject matter.
Canadians are so immersed in the American political race as well as our own efforts to place Syrian refugees that we might be surprised Australia is experiencing similar controversy.
Six "ordinary" Australians are picked to see if they can experience what refugees to Australia might be feeling.
One is a surviving boat refugee from the fall of Vietnam.
Then there are two sisters on the opposite side of the political controversy.
There's a male teacher who is skeptical of some of the claims of persecution by refugees.
Another lady worked at a refugee detention center and is intensely sympathetic to the plight of newcomers.
A tough talking woman believes the country is being flooded with these people.
First of all six are stripped of wallets, cellphones, passports --those modern day appurtenances by which we identify themselves.
Divided into two groups, one group goes to stay at the house of Palestinian refugees who some how made it to Indonesia and then charted a rickety boat to get to Australia.
There are estimates that over a few years hundreds may have perished in the surrounding waters.
They talk about persecution in the camps in Syria and feared for their lives.
And we get to gauge the reaction of the Australians moving from great sympathy to outright denial these people count as genuine refugees.
Cold hard facts clash with genuine human emotions.
Watching the participants verbally attack each other as they defend their positions makes for exciting TV.
'Massage therapist Jodi simply believes "They are jumping the queue."
Three Aussies visit with a refugee from Miramar --as a Muslim he was among the most persecuted of minorities, forbidden citizenship and even needed permission to marry.
It is all too much for the refugee from Vietnam who revisits his own escape by boat as Vietnam fell to the Communists --he was a boy of eight and lost his fgamily.
The Aussies then visit a camp for refugees Wikham Point, that looks suspiciously like a prison with its barbed wire enclosures.
And finally the six board a leaky vessel like the one thousands took from Indonesia to Australia for a harrowing journey --they are given a bottle of water and some noodles just like the thousands of hopeful refugees.
No other TV series I've seen has confronted the refugee situation as powerfully as this one.
Surely some Canadian network has the guts to plan a sequel from the Canadian point of view?
GBTWYCF was directed --brilliantly --by Ivan O'Mahoney, prtesented by Dr. David Corlett and narrated by Colin Friels.
If you start watching you won't be able to stop!
GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM RUNS ON TVO THURSDAY MARCH 24 AT 9 P.M.
MY RATING: ****.