The Beauty of Boring

By Alex Russell
Illustration by Sophie Wallace-Crichton

Over the last few years it has become very common for society to decide Instagram filtered activities are the ultimate in “life goals”.

But whilst these images might make us feel a moment of #wanderlust or a craving for brunch, media that truly depicts the honesty of a life wonderfully close to ours is what will remain in our hearts and minds longer than a snapchat story.

This is especially true when it comes to family life. Be it the painfully honest truths of living with your siblings in Malcolm in the Middle, the mundanity of suburban life in Kath & Kim or simply the deep sense of pride one feels about their home as depicted in The Castle do more than entertain us.

So, when it comes to channelling suburbia and family who does it best: Australia or America?

Let’s find out!

Team USA: Modern Family

An instant hit with audiences, US Television series Modern Family began with the overly excited Cameron going behind partner Mitchell’s back to introduce their newly adopted daughter Lily to the rest of the family; by dressing her up as a lion cub, recreating the iconic Lion king lift (film soundtrack included). From Phil’s humourous frustration over constantly forgetting to fix the loose step in his house, to Mitchell’s struggle to inform Cameron that his revealing bike shorts are inappropriate, Modern Family celebrates the constantly evolving position that families hold within traditional suburbia. If Modern Family has taught us anything, it’s that family can come in many forms and that the best way for anyone to introduce their new baby to the family is via a Lion King re-enactment. 7.5/10.

TEAM ‘STRAYA: Kath and Kim

Before we get into this, have a tiny teddy. Is there anything more noble than the call from Sharon Strzelecki for “BBQ shapes and a bottle of Baileys”? No, no there is not. Kath and Kim has earnt it’s place in the hearts of Australia since 2001, reminding us all that there’s always a joker somewhere in the pack. It is a celebration of family, suburbia and all things bogan, from Kim and Brett’s spontaneous renovation plans to Kim’s clear sense of style; Kim’s phrase “If its not Dotti or Witchery, don’t talk to me!” is surely something we can all live by. Even though we may not all want to head down to Fountain Lakes shopping centre, there is something excellent about seeing Australian suburbia and family on the small screen rather than re-watching the slew of cheap American sitcoms that get produced quicker than Kel can whip up a sausage platter. Now, where’s the Baileys at? 9/10.

Team USA: Malcolm in the Middle

Sometimes, watching something that embraces the imperfections of life and growing up can ultimately remind us that we aren’t alone and can have funny, interesting, moments. Following the character of Malcolm and his dysfunctional family; Mother Lois; the control freak, Father Hal the good cop, brothers Francis: a high school dropout, Reece: a reckless delinquent and Dewey, the youngest and most picked on brother. Malcolm’s struggles to get away with as much as possible with his brothers, deal with being placed in the “gifted class” at school and generally figuring out who he is, connects to all families. However, unlike programs like Kath and Kim and Modern Family, Malcolm in the Middle relies a little too heavily on stereotypes without turning them on their head as much as later programs. Still, doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for Malcolm and his family on this list seeing as it’s a good opportunity to appreciate Bryan Cranston before he became a meth dealing dad in Breaking Bad (how has this not been made into a crossover tv show yet? A true missed opportunity). 7/10.

TEAM ‘STRAYA: The Castle

Mate, is there anything that captures the Aussie ‘burbs better than this? This movie is one that’ll go straight to the pool room every time, because it lovingly depicts Aussie suburban life with tongue firmly in cheek and has too many good quotes to not be considered a favourite. Darryl Kerrigan, a man who believes that “fishing is 10% brains, 95% muscle and the rest is just good luck,” and Bonnie Doon are a paradise representing the everyday suburban man. He takes pride in his family, such as when his daughter graduates Sunshine Tafe as a hairdresser or simply when his wife makes something new for dinner and takes pride in where his lives, when fights for his home, due to the firm belief that “a man’s home is his castle”. Honestly, what’s not to like? 9/10.

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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