Australian dramas often suffer from the crippling effects of trying to be too unique, too culturally identifiable, in other words, too Australian. These efforts often result in introspectively focussed, immature, cringe worthy productions which remain largely inaccessible to audiences beyond the borders of Australia. Other countries produce dramas, why then are we so insistent on producing ‘Australian’ dramas?
However every once in a while a show or movie appears which manages to shatter the stereotypical image of what an Australian drama must consist of and how it must be represented. One such television show is ‘Love My Way’. This is the most real and genuine homegrown portrayal of love, life, longing and loss which has graced our television screens in a long time, if ever. While the show is targeted at twenty to thirty somethings, anyone who appreciates quality television will enjoy this show.
Life is often hard, often messy and does not always result in happy endings. And yes, we all make mistakes, we all swear, but you know what, no matter what happens we all try to pick ourselves up and go on. This is real life. For some reason, many shows feel the need to dumb down their content or represent real life events in completely unrealistic ways, as if we wouldn’t be able to handle the truth. I take much more comfort in intellectually and emotionally connecting with real characters dealing with real problems. While ‘Love My Way’ is obviously set in Australia, this does not mean that it only deals with Australian problems with a ‘she’ll be right mate’ kind of attitude. This show is much bigger than that. Rather than deal with geographically or culturally unique problems, the show deals with human problems, those that are faced by each and every one of us.
Given this realistic approach, which some audiences may find confronting after wallowing in mind-numbingly safe shows for so long, Love My Way has not, and is unlikely to ever make its way to Australian free-to-air television. However there is no need to despair if you don’t have access to Pay TV, you can always catch Love My Way as it is released on DVD. Series 1 is available now, and Series 2 is being released on November 16 2006.
I guarantee that all ten episodes of Series 1 will move you in some way, shape or form. The winning element in this series, which is most likely to grab you, is that none of the characters are perfect, just like the people we encounter in our own lives, they all have their flaws. The characters are played naturally and consistently by all the actors, and complemented by some great writing and quality production elements this show deserves every good thing coming its way.
What complicated webs we weave…but perhaps not as complicated as the intertwined lives represented on Love My Way. The story revolves in essence around two families. Based in a beautiful ramshackle beachside house we have Frankie (Francesca) Paige played by Claudia Karvan, her daughter Lou Jackson Paige (Alex Cook) and Tom Jackson (Brendan Cowell). Then living in an expensive modern home, we have Frankie’s ex-husband Charlie Jackson (Dan Wyllie) (brother to Tom and father to Lou) and his wife Julia Jackson (Asher Keddie). Parents complete the main cast ensemble, Frankie’s mum Di Paige (Gillian Jones), and Charlie and Tom’s parents, Gerry Jackson (Max Cullen) and Brenda Jackson (Lynette Curran). Amongst all this we have a smattering of boyfriends, girlfriends and work colleagues to complete the interwoven tapestry of characters.
The show’s two central couples illustrate a great diversity of character and personality. Frankie is arty, creative, loving, grounded, and yet she can be hard to reach at times, withdrawing into herself and her art. Julia can be a prissy rich girl and a complete bitch, but she wears her emotions close to the surface, and when backed against a wall manages to find sources of amazing inner strength. Tom struggles with identity and is probably emotionally messed up 85 per cent of the time; he’s always looking for solutions to his problems in the wrong places. Charlie is the link between both families and tries to be many things to many people, for those people he loves; he loves them desperately, almost too deeply for his own good.
The show focuses on the demons faced by individuals such as drugs, death, alcohol and emotional breakdown, the way we cope with these situations and the different ways we rely on others for support. We also experience many joys along with the characters, everything from births and career successes to falling in love. Some big philosophical questions are also explored, such as what am I doing with my life? Where am I going? Where do I belong? Who do I belong with?
As its name would suggest, at the show’s core many themes of love are explored, the love between mother and child, father and daughter, husband and wife, mother and father, boyfriend and girlfriend, and friend to friend. ‘Love My Way’ will get you thinking about your own life and the lives of those you love. I wholeheartedly recommend you take some time out from your own complicated, messy, imperfect life and experience some refreshingly honest drama along with the Paige and Jackson families.