Modern Family Down Under special
US network ABC has released a short trailer giving a taste of upcoming episodes of hit show Modern Family filmed in Australia.PT0M11S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-36qvb 620 349 April 16, 2014
It's tremendous to finally have Australian-based narrative comedy back on commercial television.
Admittedly, it's a US sitcom about a family going Down Under for just one episode, and the cast was flown in by Qantas as part of a tourism campaign, and we won't be able to enjoy it without wincing through stereotypes and outmoded slang, but we have to take what we can get, given the local TV landscape is drier than a dead dingo's donger.
Modern Family is the latest production to consider Australia a backdrop exotic enough to be special but English-speaking enough that the cast don't need to shout at locals. Also, they are free to take the piss out of our characters and attractions without offending our culture, because we don't really have one. Except for, of course, indigenous culture, drinking culture and the all-pervasive cultural cringe; a condition perhaps best exemplified by this very sentence.
A man on a mission: Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy tries to discover his Aussie roots in Modern Family.
Looking at past voyages: The Love Boat reached our mainland in 1981 and the episode has dated terribly, not least because the vessel of desperados seeking a new life wasn't boarded by the Navy and towed back to Indonesia. The opening credits list ''Elizabeth the Koala'' as a new cast member, and we know she's a watered-down fraud the moment we see her cuddle an American tourist without clawing at her face to satisfy a bout of Eucalyptus induced mega-munchies. Next time, send in the drop bears.
More recently, Oprah had to mop up the hysterical tears covering her studio floor after she told an already-manic audience that they were getting a free trip to "the other side of the woooOORLD!". Upon arrival, the 302 Americans enjoyed a beach barbie and took in what's left of the Great Barrier Reef. They later witnessed Hugh Jackman poleaxe himself on a flying fox at the Opera House; a theatre piece that perfectly captured Australia's dual commitment to the arts and macho stupidity. Bravo, dumbass!
America's top-rating show for 2001 was Survivor: The Australian Outback. The series was a brutal reminder to the 99.99 per cent of Aussies who reside comfily on the coast that the big bit in the middle doesn't want us. Malnourished contestants had clumps of their hair fall out and one poor sod suffered third degree burns after falling face-first into a fire. Oh, and a pig was murdered. The whole season was like Wolf Creek but with fewer survivors.
Similarly, the British series, You're a Celebrity? Get Out of Here! [Ed: it's actually I'm a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!] showcases dirty soap stars enduring ''bushtucker trials'' in a rainforest. Australia is again shown as a land of ever-present danger. And that's before you come eye-to-eye with a kangaroo anus. Yes, that was really a meal.
The Simpsons' ''Bart vs Australia'' was a vicious parody with too much lunacy and truth in its relentless mockery to warrant genuine offence, and I challenge anyone who can't take the joke to 10 rounds of Knifey-Spoony.
Ellen came to town and we shimmied obligingly; the exuberance lasting until she left before our women returned to dancing only at night and after necking a few glasses of pinot gris.
Degeneres was disappointed in our same-sex marriage laws, which was a blow to a nation that likes to be liked. We welcome foreign productions not just out of politeness, but because we want ourselves explained back to us. How the world depicts us is important when we struggle to depict ourselves. As goes my catchphrase, ''It's good to feel wanted, but it's bad to need to be wanted to feel good.''
Modern Family is tight-lipped about its Australian storyline, but looking around we do know whiny kid will feel right at home. One thing's for sure: if the sitcom reflects our down to earth, fair dinkum, egalitarian spirit, then we should do the decent Aussie thing and give them a knighthood.
Modern Family: An Aussie Adventure, Ten, Sunday, 6.30pm.