Banished is a show that most of you won’t have seen or heard of, as it has only aired in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — so far. But I’m hoping eventually it shows in the US, so here’s my review!
The TV miniseries is set in 18th-century Australia and shows the first group of convicts (and the British military that is guarding them) to arrive there. The series follows about three or four different plotlines that incorporate both male and female characters as well as military men.
As a side note, I am semi-weirdly interested in Australian history. I think it’s because it’s so similar and yet dissimilar to our own colonial history in the US. So, I heard “18th century” and “Australia,” and I immediately perked up.
There are both positives and negatives to the show, so let me run them down for you:
Positives Aspects of Banished
1. Both male and female characters are featured
Normally a show like this would be a manly wankfest full of boys running around. And yes, a large emphasis is on the fact that the female convicts are specifically here to serve as sex slaves to the British military. But you do have one very spunky female character (MyAnna Buring, who you might recognize from Downton Abbey, as Elizabeth Quinn), and there is one plotline that is largely female-centric (between Orla Brady as Anne Meredith and Genevieve O’Reilly as Mary Johnson) that I believe passes the Bechdel Test.
2. The costumes are (usually) relatively 18th century
3. There’s a hottie
And he’s a baddie, which makes you all conflicted as you lust after him. Rrrrrr.
4. The costumes are realistically filthy
5. The plot clips along at a good pace
This is no snoozer — stuff happens, and keeps happening! People’s lives are on the line! There are reprieves, and then more drama ensues!
Negative Aspects of Banished
1. The women are there to serve as boy-part-receptacles
Minus the reverend’s wife and the governor’s housekeeper (a super minor character), all the other women are there are sex slaves (let’s call it what it is) to the military. This may be historically accurate, so I’m not saying they shouldn’t be depicting this. But almost all of the female characters are there to be fought over, and they get handed around, and while there’s no serious rape scenes, it’s squicky.
2. There are 0 aboriginal people involved
None. Nada. Zilch. No fights, no encounters, no nothing. Certainly no indigenous perspectives on this whole “monumental settling of a new world” thing.
3. (Almost) no one ever changes clothes
Seriously, I think the only person who EVER changes clothes is the reverend’s wife (and I’m pretty sure she had only two outfits, which we’ll come back to). Now, granted, I doubt the convicts had many changes of clothes. But still. Same outfit, every scene. Must have made continuity a breeze!
4. None of the women own (or make) a comb
SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE. You couldn’t find a twig, or finger-comb your hair? NOPE. I’VE WORN MY HAIR THIS WAY FOR 10 YEARS, I’M NOT STOPPING NOW.
5. None of the women’s hair ever changes one iota
6. A few of the costumes have some “WTF” elements
Specifically, the reverend’s wife:
In summary, it’s worth a watch — we’ll keep you posted if it ever airs (or becomes available) in the US!
Brits, Aussies, and New Zealanders: What did you think of Banished?