If the apparatchiks running this dull election campaign were even halfway serious about their commitment to connect with the electorate on matters of daily importance, they would demand answers to why so many of our favourite TV characters are being knocked off. A Royal Commission into the prevalence of automobile accidents in contemporary TV drama, perhaps?
Until last night's Offspring season finale, one wouldn't have thought that Nina Proudman and Lady Mary Crawley had much in common. But they do.
When their characters return in new episodes of Offspring and Downton Abbey they will be single mothers haunted by the deaths of their partners in car accidents, with children who will never know their fathers.
While for Lady Mary that might mean a succession of nannies, delicate negotiations with a meddling mother-in-law and a truckload of stoic British pluck, the implications for Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie) will be completely different.
Offspring's writers took a big gamble with the decision to kill off Patrick (Matthew Le Nevez). He was a popular character with a modicum of eye-candy appeal. More importantly, his commitment to Nina following years of mutual misunderstandings in the just-wrapped fourth season meant that Nina, much like Lady Crawley, had finally arrived at a place of relative happiness.
As viewers-turned-agony-aunts-and-uncles who stood by Nina after her heart was broken by Chris Havel (Don Hany), an ill-advised one-night-stand with her sister's boyfriend Mick (Eddie Perfect) and love affairs with a jealous pyromaniac among others, we needed to see Nina land on her feet. And what better way than with a baby with Patrick – a doubly rewarding development given a tragic backstory in which he lost a child?
Of course, Patrick's exit paves the way for Offspring to return to its foundation, and a bright, funny, smart and neurotic singleton with an unconventional family and a demanding job looking for love in a chaotic modern world. But do we really want to watch Nina having her heart broken by a succession of colourful suitors again? With a baby to care of as well. Her dating days – and ours – may well be over.
The finale ended with Nina alone on a hospital bed, stroking her newborn daughter. She had endured Patrick's funeral and (unseen) cremation, discovered his secret baby shower gift to her, made up with her brassy sister Billie (Kat Stewart) and – in one of the silliest sequences ever committed to camera – delivered a baby.
The episode's best moments, involved her and Billie's reconciliation – Nina the wise Yoda to the needy Billie, Billie the steadfast emotional crutch to her distraught sister despite her own unfulfilled emotional needs and seemingly irreparable marriage.
The moment in which Nina expressed her fears of being unable to love her child was poignant and gutsy. And her fleeting imagined glimpses of Patrick were at once tragic, tender and strangely comforting.
Discussing the writers' decision to give Nina a baby in season four, Asher Keddie has said that the key question she asked herself was whether viewers would want to see that happen to her character.
Patrick's exit paves the way for Offspring to return to its foundation, and a bright, funny, smart and neurotic singleton ... looking for love in a chaotic modern world.
As the season concludes, the answer appears to have been a resounding yes. What happens to Nina in post-Patrick Offspring next year remains to be seen.
I'm hoping there won't be too many scenes of her talking to Patrick's ghost, or rekindling of old flames.
Killing off Patrick and giving Nina a baby might turn out not to be a bad thing. One of the program's strengths is the way it has reformulated the notion of the “biological” family, embraced the order and goodness that can come from seemingly messy relationships and chaotic work situations and pinpointed the possibility – no, make that likelihood – that its characters' eccentricities and foibles aren't entirely different from those of the, ahem, normal viewer at home.
It also tells us that life doesn't always pan out as expected, or as we might have thought if we peered in the crystal ball.
One thing, please, enough with the car accidents.