Non-Australians may or may not be familiar with the satire made by the ex-D Generation team of Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, etc – they’re probably best-known overseas for the films The Castle and The Dish.
In their latest TV offering, The Hollowmen, they skewer the policymakers at federal government level, those (unelected) people who work closely with the Prime Minister and Cabinet developing national policy. Their first episode, Fat Chance, picks apart the creation of obesity policy: how it’s not really about health, but pandering to populist ideas and lobby groups. It’s fairly neutral, wryly pointing out conflict between the fast food industry lobby groups and the health food groups and so on, and depicts the policy wrangling that goes on in a fairly accurate but dramatised way. (Trust me, I’ve seen it in action up close more than once.)
One character even gets a word in about how the UK’s anti-childhood-obesity policies are duds, and there’s a good deal of pointing out the hypocrisy and absurdity involved on all sides. I suspect that the Won’t-somebody-think-of-the-children people will be most outraged by their depiction in this episode. The fast food industry comes across not as inherently evil, but simply protecting their interests (to me, at least, but I may be tempered by my belief that deep-fried chicken and the like isn’t “bad” because it supposedly Makes Kids Fat, but more that intensive farming and fast-food labour hire practices, etc, are often questionable). But the really important point in this episode is that the anti-obesity lobby is also depicted not as really caring about anyone’s health, but about protecting their interests and getting their own ideologies put into public policy.
The Hollowmen gets it remarkably right with regards to how Australia federal politics works, however unlikely that anyone at the top would ever admit it. It’s not as comedic as Yes, Minister, or as dramatic as The West Wing, but very wry and dry in keeping with the production team’s previous endeavours.
You can watch this first episode of The Hollowmen on the ABC website. (Probably – I’m not sure if the ABC manages content based on your location like the BBC. If you’re in Australia you definitely can, otherwise look out for the episode on YouTube.)