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