FRANZ K. | REPEAT OFFENDERS
Bump brings in the new year with intersectional resolutions right when we're ready to finally and forever drop 2020 in the dumpster, Bump kicks off with an unexpected sorpresa. Perhaps it'll even presage a third wave of successful Australian cultural-clash-themed comedies; from Fat Pizza (2003), Looking for Alibrandi (2000) and The Wog Boy (2000) all the way back to They're a Weird Mob (1966). But right now the best part of our latest multicultural mélange is the way it dares to delve into intersectional feminism without sacrificing a scrap of mainstream audience appeal.
Taking a brief step back, the first thing we learned in Macquarie's introductory Gender Studies unit was to question that well-known feminist trope – the kind of stereotype that YouTube psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson sold his online audience on to propel himself to popular stardom (see ‘The Problem with Jordan Peterson‘ by the David Pakman Show). Series writer and former Sydney Morning Herald journalist Kelsey Munro is clearly aware of the power this persona holds over the wider populace, embedding its Gen-Z incarnation into her protagonist, Oly – emotional support stuffed animal included. The comedic potential is thus already high, and it only increases from there. After getting us giggling at her sheltered and quirky personality, Munro drops this year 11 student straight in the deep end of every educated white girl's worst nightmare (half-spoiler: unplanned teen pregnancy).
Despite treading the treacherous path of an education in gender, the most I'll ever manage is a feminist alliance as a queer non-woman. Thus I must confess to feeling more than a little guilty pleasure at seeing this fictional future Friedan in the throes of that one thing an education fails to teach: lived experience. Also, the series came out after I opted out of USYD Gender Studies, a place where a wealthy inner city kid like Oly would undoubtedly thrive – and maybe we'll see in an already approved season two. Potential spoiler: it's an ethereal realm where trailblazers like lesbian astronaut Sally Ride are summed up as mere metaphoric representations of a corrupt capitalist culture, backed up by outdated research so dusty that even the author had to replace it. If all that seems a bit stuffy, that's the point. Bump brings biological reality back to our heady young feminist before she gets too swept up in the kind of lofty dreams that remain about as accessible to the rest of us as a trip to outer space, and it feels like intersectional justice has found its way into the safe space of this future social justice star.
Another upside to Bump's humored approach is that, unlike with recent dramas like Batwoman (2019) and Billions (2016), fully fleshed out character development can be sacrificed in favour of a series of light-hearted cameos. Where queer characters in the former series seem to suffer from a lack of deeper understanding of our experience by the writers, Bump serves up a much wider and more diverse menu without dwelling overlong on anyone in particular. It's more inclusive and leaves you hungry for more, so hopefully season two will offer added screen time for Oly's Muslim BFF, her Asian-Australian boyfriend and spoiler alert: their new gender-bending buddy.
I've already reached the limit of what I feel qualified to speak about (along with the spoiler limit), so check it out on Stan to hear what the show's Chilean feministas think of Oly. For my part, I reckon she's the feminist hero that we all deserve AND need right now – privilege included.