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Faraway Downs

Faraway Downs





Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

When Lady Sarah Ashley left her comfortable home in England to brave Australia’s outback, she hadn’t planned on being gone long. A week was all she needed to locate her philandering husband, convince him to sell their cattle ranch—Faraway Downs—to save their estate in England, and divorce him.

Well, things didn’t exactly go to plan.

Lady Ashley’s husband, Maitland, sends a man called the “Drover” to collect her in Darwin and bring her to Faraway Downs. But while Drover is busy picking fights and making lewd remarks to Lady Ashley, Maitland is killed, seemingly by an aboriginal man.

The manager of Faraway Downs, Neil Fletcher, convinces Lady Ashley that the outback is no place for a woman. And he persuades her to sell her land and cattle stock at a low price to Lesley “King” Carney, his father-in-law who only needs the Downs to complete his cattle monopoly. But Lady Ashley changes her mind after Drover informs her that the cattle alone are worth £10,000—just enough to save her home in England—if she’s willing to do the work involved in selling them.

It’ll be a long and dangerous journey to get the cattle from Faraway Downs to Darwin, where they can be sold. And Lady Ashley will discover many things about the outback, Drover and herself before it’s over.

Deleted Scenes

Faraway Downs is a miniseries that actually serves as an extension of Baz Luhrmann’s 2008 film Australia. The story follows Lady Ashley, Drover and a young half-Aboriginal boy named Nullah as they meet, come together as a sort of family and eventually face the hardships of World War II in Australia.

There are a few sex scenes with partial nudity. Drover and some other men make Lady Ashley uncomfortable with their innuendo. Nullah’s grandfather wears a buttocks-revealing loincloth. And there’s some heavy implications that many Aboriginal women have been raped by white men.

And speaking of the Aboriginal people, this series takes place between 1939 and 1942, when Australia still had archaic race laws in effect. Racial slurs toward Aboriginal folks and their mixed-race children are freely slung without consequence. Many white fathers abandon their Aboriginal children. And we learn about the “Stolen Generations,” mixed-race children who were forcefully taken from their families to be trained for service in white society.

In addition to those slurs, we encounter a bit of other foul language, including the British expletive “bloody” and some abuses of Christ’s name. And we see folks getting drunk and smoking on several occasions.

Once World War II gets started, bombs take the lives of many people. However, even before that, many people die. Some are stabbed with spears, a woman drowns, one man is trampled by cattle and another is thrown to the crocodiles. Non-lethal violence includes bar brawls, domestic abuse and child abuse.

Parents should note that while the original film was rated PG-13, this miniseries is TV-MA. It’s a much less sanitized version of Australia. And that extra hour’s worth of content comes with an extra hour’s worth of concerns, as well.

Episode Reviews

Nov. 26, 2023 – S1, E1: “Chapter One: The Land”

Lady Sarah Ashley travels from England to Australia to sell her family’s cattle ranch and divorce her husband. But when she arrives to find her husband dead, she resolves to work the ranch instead.

A man wears a loincloth, exposing his bare backside. A woman wears a low-cut dress. Drover, Lady Ashley’s escort through the outback, is shown shirtless, pouring water over his head in slow motion as Lady Ashley ogles him. Characters make several lewd comments. Lady Ashley mistakenly believes Drover wants her to share a tent with him and two other men. Lady Ashley wants to divorce her husband because he has had many extramarital affairs (which everyone in Australia seems to know about). In one scene, Lady Ashley’s suitcase is broken open, spilling out her undergarments. We see several prostitutes outside a building.

Fletcher, the ranch manager, enters a house with Nullah’s mother at night and exits the next morning, the implication being that he forced her to have sex with him. (Nullah calls this making “wrong-side business.”) Later, when Nullah tells some of Fletcher’s secrets to Lady Ashley, he threatens to abuse Nullah’s mother if the boy won’t obey. And in another scene, he chases and smacks Nullah repeatedly, shoving Nullah’s mother to the side before Lady Ashley hits him in the face with a riding crop, cutting his cheek.

Drover gets into a fistfight with several men after they use racial slurs. A dead man falls into a river, still bleeding, and we later see his body laid out with mourners all around. Someone shoots a kangaroo, to Lady Ashley’s horror, and we see the still bleeding carcass tied to the roof of a truck.

Nullah’s grandfather teaches Nullah to sing to the world around him, which, according to the grandfather’s faith, will make desired events happen. Both say that Fletcher is a curse upon the land and that Lady Ashley is the rain come to heal it. Several tombstones have crosses engraved. A wooden cross stands at the back of a small cemetery. During a funeral, we hear about heaven. A priest cares for several orphaned and abandoned children.

People get drunk and disorderly. A few people smoke pipes and cigarettes.

Lady Ashley is appalled that a newspaper is more focused on a new film than the beginning of World War II. People lie and steal. Segregation laws are enforced.

We hear many racial slurs, as well as the British expletive “bloody,” a single abuse of Christ’s name, and the term “crikey,” which is a euphemism for Christ.

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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