TV: Paper Giants–The Birth of Cleo Review.

Asher Keddie has never been my favourite actress. So I wasn’t particularly looking forward to her portrayal of magazine mogul Ita Buttrose in ABC’s Paper Giants.

However, after watching both episodes online on Good Friday, I’m now a Keddie convert.

If you’ve read any of the myriad of positive reviews of the miniseries, you’ll know that Keddie gets the Ita lisp down perfectly.

But Keddie gives off a different air to Ita (granted, I’m only really familiar with The Morning Show and etiquette Ita, not the golden age of magazines Ita), though, and really makes the role her own.

Film-wise, the imagery embodies the ’70s perfectly (’cause I was alive then and all!) and harkens back to simpler times, when the printers baulked at having to change their formatting to accommodate the patented Cleo sealed section, saying it couldn’t be done!

Though the role of women was going through an upheaval at the time, and Cleo paved the way for women of that generation.

I found it funny and quite poignant that women like Ita and her assistant Leslie, played by Jessica Tovey, were working to change the status of women through their magazine, while privately their lives were in shambles: Leslie tries to take on the role of sexually empowered woman, experimenting with role play, fantasy and sex toys, but still stays with her unenlightened fiancé Muz, while maintaining an affair with a senior co-worker, who refuses to leave his wife for her. And before Ita’s husband, Mac, leaves her raising one child and pregnant with another, the film juxtaposes Ita arriving home from a long day at the office that included being rebuffed for a loan without the permission of her husband with asking Mac if he’d like onions with his steak, which she immediately begins making.

At this juncture, the Cleo girls raise the notion of Superwoman, and if she actually exists; a debate modern feminists are still grappling with.

My favourite parts of the miniseries, apart from Keddie as Ita, and Rob Carlton as Kerry Packer, was its ability to poke fun at the present day, such as a dig at Time Out magazine, and how it will “never take off” and a Cleo girl asking, “Who’s Paul Keating?”

Paper Giants is still re-running on ABC (check your local guide), available to watch online for another four days, and is available for pre-order on DVD from the ABC Shop.

[ABC] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Video.

[ABC Shop] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Review (Plus a Couple of Extra Days Thrown in There): 17th–26th April, 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “Cultural Talking Points”: How Does Jackie O’s “Bad Parenting” Relate to Hunting?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Has Feminism Failed?

Images via Facebook, ABC.

3 thoughts on “TV: Paper Giants–The Birth of Cleo Review.

  1. Pingback: 12 Posts of Christmas: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants. « The Early Bird Catches the Worm

  2. Pingback: My Week in Pictures. « The Early Bird Catches the Worm

  3. Pingback: TV: Paper Giants 2 — Modern Day Magazine Wars. | The Early Bird Catches the Worm

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