a deep reading of colonial violence, and a comedy not to be missed
Created by Nakkiah Lui and Gabriel Dowrick
A sophisticated multi-level critique of colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy with a cast of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stars (as well as well-known non-Aboriginal figures playing an assortment of “allies”), Preparers is hilarious.
Trying to navigate being the only Indigenous person on an all-white morning TV show, Wake up Australia, and in the face of daily micro-aggressions, Charlie (Nakkiah Lui) finds himself suffering from feelings of inadequacy and calming down with affirmations of self-help.
Then, after a series of unfortunate events, she wakes up to find herself in a doomsday lair known as “Eden 2”.
The six-part series then takes place in an isolated camp where power relations shift as everyone prepares for the end of the world.
The main cast of Seven is led by a group of brilliant actors Blak: He is joined by Jack Charles, Meyne Wyatt, Ursula Yovich and Aaron McGrath, with non-native actors Eryn Jean Norvill and Chum Ehelepola completing the preppers.
Many other wonderful actors come in and out of the show, including Miranda Tapsell, Luke Carroll, and Christine Anu, as it tackles big issues like colonial violence, border wars, intergenerational trauma, and identity politics.
But it’s all in the great Australian tradition of pissing off: making fun of things that are absurd, laughable, offensive and hurtful.
A story of alliance
Much has been written on the subject of alliance with indigenous peoples, in particular the danger that in seeking âallyâ status, one really seeks to position oneself as the âgood white personâ.
If white allies are motivated solely by the desire to be seen as a “good person,” there is a danger that they will remain ignorant or indifferent to the larger structures of power.
Preparers explores this complexity in a way that will make us all laugh, while also revealing how the alliance operates to silence or take away indigenous peoples.
In one episode, the group is accidentally locked in the bunker.
Jayden (Aaron McGrath) asks Kirby (Eryn Jean Norvill) to be sacrificed before they run out of air.
As Jayden describes it, it would be “the ultimate demonstration of the White Covenant.”
Kirby, not very happy to comply, responds by stating that she would have to survive to continue and tell the story.
âWe don’t need another white person to tell a black story,â Jayden says.
Becoming an ally is not a simple or straightforward matter.
Instead, it requires constant reflection on your social standing and staying accountable to those with whom you are “allied” – but you probably won’t be called upon to sacrifice yourself to make sure there is enough air left in. your doomsday bunker.
Like a Hollywood weekend, the group spins around. Kirby declares that Charlie (Him) will be the one who dies.
Charlie’s award will become the namesake of a future child of born-again Christians Lionel (New Zealand-Sri Lankan actor Chum Ehelepola) and Kelly (Ursula Yovich). Not the first or second child, but one of the last, Kelly notes.
Charlie will also be awarded an annual honor day – “a day of mourning and dancing and all that.”
Fortunately, they are saved by the arrival of Charlie’s mother, Marie (Christine Anu).
Hard truths through comedy
Preparers unboxes what we think we know – and what we have been taught to be the truth – about colonization.
In one scene, bones are found.
Preparers suspect the bones could be those of an aboriginal killed during the border wars.
The truth of these atrocities is questioned by some members of the group. “Don’t they teach you that at school?” Jayden asks.
“We used to make boomerangs out of Popsicle sticks, does that matter?” Â»Asks Lionel.
Resident Elder Monty (Jack Charles) reveals he may have traces of local border wars and “that’s the thing with you white guys.” You deny it, but you wrote it down â.
Describing the border violence as an apocalypse, Monty shows the group a series of slides of colonial soldiers and settlers killing Natives, stating that they were “led by a cruel man, a real dog.” He shot, burned, beat, hanged the local natives â.
Although Preparers is a comedy, the show offers a deep reading often overlooked by memories of colonial violence.
Indigenous peoples were not just passive victims of heinous crimes. These were people who fought for their life and their country.
âThey ambushed this colonial dog and his men, stole their guns and turned their guns on them. The Blackfullas got their revenge, âMonty says.
From Charlie, whose anxiety manifests as uncontrollable gas, to a Black Bear Grylls-alpha-male-wannabe (Guy, played by Meyne Wyatt), to a pair of born again Christians practicing abstinence, Preparers includes brilliant performances from all actors.
Preparers embodies the true definition of Blak humor in all of its subtleties, and the unique ways in which Indigenous comedy can approach the complexities of daily life for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders in contemporary Australia.
The series is, to quote a line in one of the episodes, “like deadly, like deadly Blackfulla, not like gammin [fake or pretend]” – A must see !
Preppers is on ABC from November 10.
Bronwyn Carlson, Professor, Indigenous Studies and Director of the Center for Global Indigenous Futures, Macquarie University