Hope Offsprings eternal ... Nina Proudman tackles the challenge of moving on without Patrick Reid nobly.
“Can I do this?”
It’s the question not just Nina Proudman asked herself as Offspring opened for its fifth series, but the question all fans were asking too.
Family bonds ... Martin Clegg (played by Lachy Hulme), Billie Proudman (Kat Stewart) and Jimmy Proudman (Richard Davies) in new series of Offspring.
Can we go on after the death of Dr Patrick Reid? The death that drew a national audience that peaked at 1.72 million to Channel Ten last August, caused a social media meltdown and left fans shell shocked and sobbing on the sofa (I’ll admit it, I bawled so hard my husband had to leave the room to escape the shame of a weeping wife rocking back and forth and muttering ‘I was sure it was going to be Billie’).
Even the show’s co-creator and head writer Debra Oswald was called upon to explain herself. “Death has always been a potent element of storytelling,” she wrote, “and after four series, we felt Offspring could afford to explore that territory.”
So can we go on? Well, in the words of Barrack Obama, my friends, I’m here to tell you yes we can, yes we can.
Because while Patrick (Matthew Le Nevez) may be gone (having died after he was hit by a car), he is not forgotten, having slipped into the realm vacated in the 1980s by another Patrick … in the film Ghost, that is.
I know Our Patrick is not technically a ghost (and I trust the writers to not delve into any late-night sexy pottery scenes, although Nina’s, um, “alone” time came close) but his presence is still felt by Nina (Asher Keddie) and he is still very much a part of her life.
When he first appeared in the kitchen as she prepared to head back to work for the first time in six months, I’m not going to lie, I welled up. With the simple gesture of his hand resting on her shoulder, it was a comfort to all fans – it said I’m still here and we can get through this together (and don’t get all snarky and mutter ‘he’s not real, he’s just a fictional character’ because I. Will. Not. Hear. It.)
On the upside, what Patrick’s death has done has allowed Offspring’s real heart and soul – the Proudman clan – to show their colours once more – to be the strong, wacky and loving group that they are (who else is going to throw you an orgasm party, if not your family?).
As Nina resumes her place in the world as widow and single mother, it’s their support that gives the opening scene such strength – positive proof that it takes a village to raise a child, as baby Zoe is passed from Nina to Billie (Kat Stewart) to Geraldine (Linda Cropper) and nursed by Phillip (Garry McDonald).
It was beautiful and seamless and made the six-month time jump from last season to now a place of healing.
It was Offspring at its strongest - it showed that life is hard, that grief is a shocking and painful emotion, but that it’s also OK to laugh. There’s plenty of room for light and shade (again, see the orgasm party – is it too late to trademark this?).
So, yes, there’s hope. Nina will find her feet, Billie will find her man (oh, Lawrence – we’ll have to leave you for another time) and we will find Patrick, quietly standing nearby.