29 April 2010 | Jiji-3
One of the very best things to happen to television, ever
There are about... 6 TV shows I value very, very highly. Of those, Outrageous Fortune is the only one I started watching again, from scratch, as soon as the last episode of season 5 was over. I've done that about 3 times now, and I'm not planning to stop at 4. It amazes me I don't get tired or bored of it. Nor do I ever start feeling like my initial "wow" reaction was misplaced. It really is as brilliantly written as I thought the moment I first laid eyes on it, which was 2 years ago.
I translate TV series and movies for a living, and as such, a lot of crap has gone through my hands. Outragous Fortune is solid gold. It comes once in a few decades, if that. It follows the lives, tribulations and evolving personalities of a family of career criminals, a handful of their friends, and a cop who falls in love with the strong, stubborn, ever caring matriarch, Sheryl West. I'd say the show falls into the comedy-drama (dramedy?) genre, and even though it's deliberately over the top at times, it feels amazingly true to life.
The writing is very brave, not only in its bluntness and razor-sharp wit, but in its treatment of social norms we've been struggling to alter for years. For example, I've yet to see another show where people in their late 40s and 60s are represented not just as somebody's parents /grandparents, but as human beings with sex lives of their own (which are going splendidly well, too).
The male characters are beautifully multifaceted, each and every one of them (which men in television and real life are rarely allowed to be). The female characters also break taboos about how women "are supposed and expected to be" by being independent and tough as nails, each in her very own way. (Check out the magnificent Ngaire Munroe who's plain fierce.)
The acting is superb, and it's a pity that because of US's hegemony in every cultural sphere, audiences worldwide (minus Nz and Oz) aren't already familiar with these actors. We should have all known who some of them are long before the show aired. Many are no spring chickens, and are certainly brilliant enough to deserve the international recognition American stars get so easily, including those that are objectively mediocre.
With that said, it's the writers' work and specifically the character development that's the spark of genius making the show one of a kind. There's no flatness, no predictability, personalities grow and change, revealing sides the viewer was previously unaware of - some good, some terrible. Same as in real life, which is exactly where many writes fail (in books, too). To date, all story lines have been worth following and every single episode has been memorable, some to the point they shook me and stayed with me for days. I pray that Outrageous Fortune won't stop at 6 seasons. If it does, I'll try to move to New Zealand in hopes of living to see the day Kiwi television produces another gem like that.