“Set in rural Australia in the years following World War II, this beautifully acted, sharply written series follows the fortunes of a woman returning home after spending two decades abroad.”
I’m not one for daytime TV, if only because I am usually working when it’s on. But my grandmother is a huge fan, so on the off chance that I’m home with her, that’s what we’re watching. Soap operas, from The Bold and the Beautiful to The Young and the Restless, are her favorite. She has also branched off into mysteries and period dramas like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries or Downton Abbey, all of which are highly entertaining. So when she started watching the Australia-based series A Place to Call Home, I was intrigued.
I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The premise is pretty simple at first. The story follows Sarah Nordmann, a Jewish nurse who returns to Australia after WWII, and her connection to the wealthy Bligh family. There is obvious romantic tension between Sarah and George Bligh from the start, but as you get to meet the large cast of other characters, the story becomes much deeper than a mere period romance.
There are issues of differing religion, class dynamics, and race to name a few, on top of domestic and personal drama. Yes, there’s a lot of unnecessary drama caused by a lack of communication or misunderstandings or poor timing, which is expected of the soap opera drama. But the key aspect that I enjoyed the most about it was that everyone felt very human.
That doesn’t sound like a feat, I know. But especially with the aforementioned soap operas, everyone feels like a ridiculous caricature of a single personality trait. The evil person is obviously evil, and only does evil things (unless they do good things in order to win someone over or for manipulative purposes). The good person is a righteous hero who cannot even think about doing something bad without breaking out in hives. People cheat on each other right and left, someone is always that missing child from years ago, that person they murdered in season two actually wasn’t murdered and is now back to seek vengeance. Nobody faces any consequences—lasting consequences, at least. It’s a very predictable storyline.
And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those too, predictability is comforting and fun to laugh at. My grandma and I get a kick out of placing bets on what will happen next. One of us is virtually always correct.
We find ourselves frequently surprised by A Place to Call Home, and in good ways. It covers difficult topics with sensitivity and justice, but doesn’t pull punches.
People make mistakes, and face their consequences (for the most part, at least—they are rich elites, after all). The happy moments feel earned, and you’ll definitely be rooting for your favorites to find their happily ever after.
We’re currently on season six, the final season, and waiting to see how everything turns out. I cannot believe how captivated I am by this charming show. It’s either a sign of the times, or I’m turning into my grandmother…either way, it’s no skin off my bones! I’m enjoying the ride, and perhaps you will as well. Note that this show is for mature audiences, due mostly to those difficult topics I mentioned earlier. You can request season one (and its subsequent seasons) by following this link. Happy watching!
~~Lindsey, Library Aide