Note: At the end of last year I talked about East West 101 as an Australian TV highlight. Here’s some extended thoughts.
I continue to beleive that one of the last things we need in this country is more cop dramas but when a good one comes along, it’s really hard to ignore.
The second series of East West 101 was so good, we would do well to ignore the first with its ridiculous contrivances and overbearing political correctness. Now we get to see exactly what Australia can produce when drama is allowed to run its natural course.
Don Hany plays Zane Malik, a Muslim cop in Sydney’s west who’s trying to make a go of being a religious man in a secular world.
While the first series focused too much on revenge and the world’s inherent lack of fairness, the second delved into much more complicated territory: Maintaining one’s values in a society that offers constant temptation.
It’s complicated themes, treated with subtlety and patience, that make really good television. Imagine how much more interesting Dexter would be if there was no voice-over narration and his dead father didn’t keep explaining things. If there is limited exposition, then the audience is forced to work out the characters’ motivations. East West 101 stands out from other local drama because the creators seem to understand the importance.
The many storylines demand constant attention. The organised crime and terrorism world of Sydney’s west has many players. In addition, though, we see some of the trials of the characters’ home lives.
Susie Porter, whose presence in the series is mandatory under the SBS charter, is Patricia Wright. She’s Malik’s immediate superior in the police force. with has her own family issues to deal with and the piling dead bodies don’t make it any easier.
Both characters are, obviously, finding society’s inherent discrimination more difficult than it would be in a more ideal world. Still, they are committed to their jobs, their families and protecting themselves.
Yes, that all sounds very serious, but there aren’t any jokes here. It’s serious business, but it’s compelling, and that should be enough.
A Special Note: East West 101‘s first series alternated between unnecessarily melodramatic and promising. Those of you who remember my rant about Cptn Cardboard possibly also remember that I changed my stance on the programme after a few more episodes. I still think the first season could have been better.