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Review of Brits Down Under – The contestant resembling Paul Mescal shines as a skilled farmer in a heartwarming reality TV delight.
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Review of Brits Down Under – The contestant resembling Paul Mescal shines as a skilled farmer in a heartwarming reality TV delight.

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There is a charmingly nostalgic vibe to Brits Down Under, as though it were a remnant of a more innocent era. Without the presence of smartphones and occasional use of modern slang, one could easily believe that this show has been stored in a TV network’s storage closet for years, alongside Dinner Date and Shipwrecked. It features the same narrator, Natalie Casey, as Dinner Date and shares some similarities with both shows.

The idea is straightforward: a bunch of young British travelers without a clear purpose, in their twenties, take a break from their city-hopping adventures to work on a farm in the remote outback of southern Australia. They will receive lodging and meals in exchange for their labor. We observe as they struggle to hammer in a fence post – or rather, show the most inefficient method ever witnessed – and begin to appreciate the value of hard work. The hope is that through this experience, they will also learn to value themselves.

The person in charge of the farm is Grant, a straightforward Australian who has been farming since he was eight years old. He openly admits to swearing frequently and jokes that he inherited it from his mother. On his 10-acre farm, he provides a dorm with bunk beds for backpackers to stay in. Depending on their abilities, he either assigns them tasks on his farm or helps them find paid work on neighboring farms.

At first, these abilities are scarce, but it is clear that the stereotype of the irresponsible young person is already established before anyone even arrives. The group of British individuals ranges in age from their early twenties to late twenties, and the focus is on those who lack direction. Joanne is 27 years old, but admits, “I am not prepared to act like a mature adult yet.” Annise is 28 and went to Australia in search of a new identity, but quickly found that $900 did not get her very far and she soon became unemployed and homeless. Only one of the Brits has a backpack, while the others arrive with rolling suitcases, pushing them up the dirt path with a sense of impractical defiance.

All expected occurrences happen. Those who resist authority become upset when given instructions on how to correctly complete their tasks. One woman claims to have switched jobs seven times in a year due to disliking her boss. It is not surprising when she clashes with Grant. Another person arrives at a local vineyard wearing Crocs and is asked to change into the required work boots. Some dislike hard work, but eventually realize the satisfaction of completing a task. Grant is revealed to be a caring rather than authoritarian leader, and his partner Maëva takes on a nurturing role, ensuring that everyone is comfortable and not homesick. This environment is far from resembling Wolf Creek.

In the early stages, this reality TV show is pleasant and lighthearted, choosing to focus on positive aspects rather than any conflicts that may arise. The occasional eye-rolling at the younger generation’s limitations is quickly brushed off. Most of the participants in their twenties are hardworking and eager to try new experiences, even if they have no prior experience with farm work or manual labor. While some may come across as entitled, there are also peacemakers like Alfie, who reminds one of Paul Mescal, acting as a mediator between the blunt Grant and his backpackers. This proves useful when Grant uses a metaphor comparing his young workers to horses, which does not sit well with Annise, who insists she is not a horse and threatens to leave (but ultimately does not).

Alfie and Elliot in a hammock.

Similar to Prince Harry’s time in the outback where he earned the nickname Spike, this experience seems to have the potential to be life-changing for open-minded young adults, but potentially terrifying for those who are not. While discussing their limited opportunities in the UK and the mundane jobs they are forced to accept, one could argue about the effects of late-capitalist disillusionment. However, this show is not meant for such deep analysis and any underlying messages are hidden as well as the fence poles.

The stakes are not very high in this situation, and it is not very important. A cat uses the bathroom in the dorm, someone accidentally cuts a wire, and everyone goes to bed tired. However, it is surprisingly addictive. And any show that leaves viewers hanging with a cliffhanger like “Grant plans to send Annise to work at the goat farm tomorrow” is enjoyable for me.

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Source: theguardian.com