The lack of cultural diversity in Australian film and television is no secret. This issue has previously been explored in LEXIGO’s blog post, Cultural Diversity (or lack of?) on Aussie TV.
Now with on-demand services, we have the power to change things by choosing to watch shows with culturally diverse characters, stories and production teams.
Here are ten of LEXIGO’s favourites to get you started.
Ali’s Wedding (2017, Directed by Jeffrey Walker, Written by Osamah Sami and Andrew Knight) A romantic comedy about Melbourne-based Ali, who tells a lie that spirals into a disastrous series of events.
Blinded by the Light (2019, Written, Directed and Produced by Gurinder Chadha) The coming-of-age story of British-Pakistani Muslim teenager Javed, set to a Bruce Springsteen soundtrack. If you want more by Gurinder Chadha, check out Bend It Like Beckham and The Viceroy’s House.
Looking for Alibrandi (2000, Directed by Kate Woods, Written by Melina Marchetta) A classic celebration of Italo-Australian culture, told through the trials and tribulations of Josephine Alibrandi, in her final year of high school.
Whale Rider (2002, Directed and Written by Niki Caro) An intergenerational tale of Pai and her small Maori coastal community in New Zealand, determined to maintain their ancestor’s traditions.
Another Country (2015, Directed by Molly Reynolds, Narrated by David Gulpilil) The story of how the Yolngu people from across northern Arnhem Land had their way of life taken away from them, only to be forced into an inferior version of western life.
He Named Me Malala (2015, Davis Guggenheim) The story of Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who had to flee Pakistan after being shot by the Taliban for her stance on women’s rights. Malala, her father Zia and their family continue to fight to give girls’ education worldwide.
Chernobyl (2019, Directed by Johan Renck, Written by Craig Mazin) Finally a production with Slavic characters that aren’t just one-dimensional super spies or James Bond villains. Although a US production, it attempts to recount stories of people impacted by the 1986 nuclear disaster with sympathy and authenticity.
Waltzing with the Dragon (2019, Hosted by Benjamin Law) A deeper look at Chinese migration to Australia since colonisation – no it wasn’t just gold miners. Law also wrote the endearing comedy series The Family Law, based loosely on his high school years where his parents divorced and he discovered he was gay.
Unorthodox (2020, Created by Anna Winger and Alexa Karolinski) Based on the true story of a woman growing up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, driven to escape and start a new life.
Arranged (2015 and 2016) It’s a little trashy, but if you want more arranged-marriage insights, the reality series Arranged offers perspectives from couples from diverse communities in the United States who practise arranged marriage.
Written by Sophia Dickinson, LEXIGO: Sophia is a writer and communications consultant with 10 years’ experience in the public service and not-for-profit sectors. She has also taught English in France and spent a year working at a local NGO in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She is passionate about writing, intercultural communication and languages (she speaks French, Indonesian and is learning Spanish). Read more about her experiences here.