Looking to prostitutes for “Satisfaction”

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So I’m ringing in a new year

in Australia. Next to moving in with my girlfriend and not being

buried under five feet of snow in a Midwestern winter, the best thing

so far has been catching up with the Australian drama Satisfaction. You might remember

it

as the show set in a brothel featuring a lesbian sex worker as part

of the regular cast.

I have to admit to being skeptical

about the show. First, there’s Heather, the lesbian character.

A self-professed gay girl who is able to sleep with men on a daily basis

is not the most convincing evidence that we all aren’t just waiting

for the right man.

But what I was really afraid

of was another show about victimization, albeit very pretty victims.

TV and movie stories about

prostitution (insert your favorite Law and Order franchise here)

are littered with the corpses of dead hookers. Those who aren’t

horribly raped and murdered usually fall into two camps.

1. She’s a Pretty

Woman
.

She’s a street-smart hooker, who really just needs

a good man to transform her into an elegant woman, who really just needs

love to put her on the straight and narrow. She fell into the

life because of her circumstances and people who put her down.

Maybe it’s just me, but I always found Vivian (and Eliza Doolitle, for

that matter) more interesting before the Pygmalion play.

2. She’s a Monster.

She’s the abused little girl who tries to find a way out of the life

but never is quite able to manage it, possibly because she never finds

the love of a good man to put her on the straight and narrow.

She fell into the life because of her circumstances and people who abused

her trust from a young age.

Yes, I know this one’s based on a true

story. But the way her story is filmed, beginning with the clips

of an abused childhood, fits right into the cinematic framing of prostitution.

The premises of the two movies actually sound a lot alike. Neither

character ever has had any power to change her own life.

Satisfaction flirts with this

story line, it’s true. (More about that is to come.) Thankfully,

the only thing brutalized on the show is so-called respectable society,

which is revealed to be hypocritical and mean in just about every episode.

Instead of passing judgment on sex work and the women involved, Satisfaction

tells stories about a handful of women who happen to be sex workers,

and who through their work find financial freedom, independence — and occasionally,

well, satisfaction. It’s like Firefly‘s Inara got

her own show.

So on a scale of cliché to creative,

original writing, so far Satisfaction is winning. Mostly.

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