Beyond TV – ‘Go Back’ is a Must-Have Experience From SBS

GoBackSBS As a rule I don’t watch a lot of television. It’s often not challenging enough or emotionally engaging. But last night as I was prepping for a little writing after an already long day, I spotted a number of tweets about a show that sounded compelling.

SBS’ Go Back to Where You Came From takes six ordinary Australians on a reality TV style adventure – living like refugees for 25 days. In this first episode (with two others to run over consecutive nights), the scene is set, participants are eased into the process, hearing the personal, confronting stories of former refugees now living in Australia. Spending three nights living with these families begins the long process of cracking the hard core of prejudice that many of us blithely live with. But how confronting will this get for the participants – and for us the audience?

In true reality TV fashion, events are orchestrated to emotionally and physically test the participants. We often say that truth is stranger than fiction – and it is clear from this first episode that the reality of being a refugee contains more drama, fear, risk and challenge than many of us, cocooned in the comfort of our armchairs, could have imagined. Just when you think that the participants have been pushed to the limit, they are plunged to a deeper level of discomfort.

And while the show itself is brilliant, there’s also some seriously good social media integration around it. You can view the show online (which was perfect for me as I missed the first few minutes). There’s no waiting 24 hours etc. I think there is a problem with viewing via iPad, but the immediate availability of the show allows late-comers to still engage. Brilliant work from SBS.

Then there is the Asylum: Exit Australia simulation, an interactive quiz, interactive school resources, teachers packs and feedback forums.

It’s not just must-see TV – it’s a model for the future of what content publishing should be.

2 thoughts on “Beyond TV – ‘Go Back’ is a Must-Have Experience From SBS

  1. This program has renewed my belief in the value of watching Australian television. What an insight it gives into the life of those we condemn when they arrive on our shores. We have so much, we are so privelaged here in Australia – it is our duty to support our fellows and welcome them into our safe haven to experience a different life. Anything less is a disgrace.

  2. As an Australian who moved to the UK a year or so ago (and worked in expat media for a while) I guess I’m acutely aware of Australia’s reputation overseas. Our tough stance on immigration is one thing I think we’re well known for. This show was brilliant and taught me a few things – that bogans are people too, that some of us can be totally transformed, and that our government has deliberately left out massive pieces of information when it comes to asylum seekers and refugees. This show did restore my faith in Australian television. And I am with Susan – Australia has plenty of room to help give refugees a new, safe life. Everyone just wants what we have. It comes down to a selfish desire not to share.

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