Family Christmas truth and trauma


A Moody Christmas (M). TV series director: Trent O'Donnell. Starring: Ian Meadows, Patrick Brammall, Danny Adcock, Tina Bursill, Guy Edmonds, Jane Harber, Rachel Gordon, Phil Lloyd, David Field, Mandy McElhinney. Six 30-minute episodes

If you, like me, are someone who is accustomed to Christmas Day as a 'family occasion', you may be equally aware of the fraught nature of that innocent description.

The ABC series A Moody Christmas is a prime example of a story told for entertainment that effectively taps both the farce and the drama that is inherent in family Christmases. The six episodes take place at Christmas over six consecutive years, as the working class Moody family reunites for its annual Christmas Day barbecue.

These occasions draw London-based photographer Dan (Meadows) back to his suburban Sydney family home to be with his mum Maree (Bursill) and dad Kevin (Adcock), his deadbeat brother Shaun (Brammall) and assorted other eccentric or obnoxious relatives. The emotional through-line for the series is Dan's troubled romantic entanglement with his execrable cousin Hayden's (Edmonds) fashion designer girlfriend Cora (Harber).

In one episode Dan offends a homeless woman (McElhinney), then invites her to join them for lunch to make up for it; her presence provokes varying degrees of prejudice from family members. The episode finds surprising ways to assert the homeless character's dignity.

But the series is at its best with its heartfelt portrayal of often tense family dynamics. This is seen most obviously in Shaun, a man-child who still manages to be big brother to the ostensibly more grown-up Dan. A near family tragedy in episode three exposes the extent of Shaun's soft side.


Family Christmas truth and trauma (Tim Kroenert / Eureka Street)

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