We live in an incredibly diverse world, filled with people from all different backgrounds and with all types of experiences – and television has become much better at reflecting that in recent years. I, for one, couldn’t be happier about it. (Watch the trailer for Season 2 of Employable Me below.)
There will be some that see the depiction of people of different races, religions, sexual orientations, abilities, gender identities and economic statuses as political correctness gone mad or virtue signalling. I just consider it to be an accurate portrayal of real life.
Take, for example, the new season of Employable Me (starts Tue., Apr. 9 at 8.30pm; ABC), which introduces us to more job seekers with various conditions – in Episode 1, cerebral palsy and autism – that affect their ability to find paid employment.
Seeing the obstacles that stand in the participants’ way and their determination to overcome them made me appreciate that much more how relatively easily I’ve been able to secure jobs and increased my empathy for people who face such difficulties. And the world could do with a little more empathy, I think.
Also on the ABC, this week’s episode of You Can’t Ask That (airs Wed., Apr. 10 at 9pm) focuses on African-Australians, a community that has been the subject of much media scrutiny in recent times, but rarely from their perspective. If for no other reason than to balance out the demonisation of African-Australians from certain corners, this episode is as important as the finale of the recent season of Get Krack!n (available on iView), which saw Miranda Tapsell and Nakkiah Lui take over hosting the fictional morning show.
Giving a voice to different sections of the community is something Australian TV hasn’t always done that well, but things have improved, with everything from The Family Law to Black Comedy to Gogglebox showing that being Australian doesn’t look like one thing. I enjoy nothing more than watching Gogglebox and seeing how the different families and friends react to the same programs – diversity of opinions is important.
Another show doing its bit to represent different parts of society is Neighbours, which has come a long way since its more tokenistic gestures of decades past. The announcement that transgender woman Georgie Stone has been cast on the soap was met with a predictably mixed reaction, with some up in arms that a “family show” would include such a character. Guess what? Transgender people have families, too – and they should be depicted on-screen like everyone else.
For those worried about children being confused, I say this – why not have a conversation about transgender people with them? There’s only so long you can pretend they don’t exist before kids will find out anyway. Better still, watch and learn together. Thankfully, we live in a country where that’s now possible.