Is Offspring the tipping point for Australian television drama?

One of the great by-products of Television dramas like Offspring being filmed in areas which ooze urbanity is it provides mainstream Australia with a looking glass - no matter how outrageous story lines can get - into what single and family life can be like in urban areas.  

Offspring differs somewhat from previous productions which John Edwards has worked on like The Secret Life of Us in that there is no beachy backdrop, no sole focus on the young characters in the show and the silent character - the urban setting - is not your typical run of the mill suburb (well, St. Kilda isn't either) which so much of serial TV in Australian revolves around.  90% of Australians might live within an hour of a beach, but for the overwhelming majority of us who live in the capital cities, Bondi or St. Kilda lifestyle is as distant as Alice Springs is to Darwin.  

Offspring has owned the Fitzroy brand - executed perfectly.  Likewise Offspring has done a very good 'soft sell' of the urban lifestyle - the multitude of scenes where characters are walking to The Union Club hotel just back from Smith Street, the cafes and trams on Brunswick Street and best of all Offspring has shown off the diversity of housing stock available in inner northern Melbourne.  The lead character Nina's apartment (check) in the first few seasons, her loft conversion (check) in the most recent season, the Proudman family home (check) - it's so refreshing to see a TV show which isn't just set inside a typical suburban home or in a beachside suburb.

Not only is this soft sell happening at home in Australia, but arguably the wider international audience is getting to see a part of Australian cities which so very rarely get exposure.  International viewers are seeing we have some kick-arse urban nabes and no, not everyone's a 20 something surfie/beach bum just living the singleton life.  Although buying a house in Fitzroy, Collingwood or Carlton North will be out of reach for many families and the same areas aren't picture perfect renditions of affordability (if your aim is to buy, renting is a different, slightly more affordable story) for everyone, however Offspring is, to my mind, the tipping point for Australian drama and the way we portray where we live, work and play.  

Where some may argue the characters in Offspring are part of the infrastructure and liveability 'rich', I would say this: cast that mentality aside and look at Fitzroy as a model for retro-fitting suburbs far and wide right across Melbourne & other Australian cities.  Density as illustrated by the show (Fitzroy has a population density of 6,740 people/square kilometre compared to the standard new suburb equivalent around 1,250-1,500 people/square kilometre) comes in many shapes and forms and offers up a huge number of opportunities for people who choose to live that way.  We kick goals by aspiring to alter our suburban landscape to something like Fitzroy, St Kilda, North Melbourne or Richmond as we can house more people in a smaller footprint providing them with closer access to jobs, shops and alternative transport modes.

Neighbours and Home & Away may be a more accurate depiction of how the majority of Australia currently lives, but it's TV shows like Offspring which ought to be congratulated for tapping into the Australian mainstream (over a million people saw last night's season finale) and showing them there's a different way to live.  

More of this please learned TV producers of Australia - Offspring's only scratching the surface and every architect, developer, sales agent, Local and State Government planning body should jump on the bandwagon and take stock of the 'there, but not in your face' type message being portrayed in the background in every episode of shows like Offspring - the aforementioned groups of people need provide more accessible, affordable and urban housing in existing areas so future generations don't have to live the Erinsborough life.  

Image credit: Network Ten.  

2 comments

Martin Mankowski's picture

Its OK Alastair, you don't have to hide behind the cloak of urbanism to admit you are a closet Offspring fan! Hopefully it will be ingrained in the public psyche so deeply that eventually the Offspring/Fitzroy lifestyle will be seen as the default Australian (or at least Melbourne) one.

Neighbours has always frustrated me. Despite the fact that they live in a typical, mundane, soulless outer suburb of Melbourne (the public transport black hole of Vermont South), it is portrayed as a hip, trendy area for young singles, with everyone hanging out at 'The Coffee Shop' or 'Charlie's' (the pub with no signs of craft beer or cider) - yeah right! Though one of the main characters, Paul, has just built a heap of apartments above his hotel (which is 5 star - Vermont South, the tourist hotspot!) which some of the other characters have bought. So even the suburban lifestyle of Erinsborough is moving towards urbanism. Maybe the producers found this website! :)

Back to top
Riccardo's picture

Lolz!

http://www.vicsig.net/photo/4937

Less than ten minutes walk from the Neighbours film set

As is

Crossways Church
Burvale Hotel
Tally Ho Business Park
Vermont South Shopping Centre

I suspect everyne there drives, but they dont have to. Free parking would be the main reason.

Back to top

Development & Planning

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 00:00
City of Port Phillip will this week indicate that it has sufficient reason to object to two pending projects in Port Melbourne. 17 Rocklea Drive and 365-391 Plummer Street are both within the Wirraway Precinct of Fishermans Bend, and both projects are under the authority of the Minister for Planning.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Saturday, December 9, 2017 - 00:00
Spring Street has released details of a large shutdown of the Pakenham/Cranbourne and Frankston lines which will allow workers to complete major upgrades to the rail infrastructure. The work is required to allow for the introduction of the new High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMTs) and will involve upgrading power & catenary, signalling and communications equipment in the Dandenong (Pakenham/Cranbourne) corridor.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.