The Circumstances – | Review Score – 4/5
Incognita – | Review Score – 4/5
The Right Thing – | Review Score – 4/5
Run Sofie Run – | Review Score – 4/5
Panis Angelicus – | Review Score – 4.5/5
The Seventh Circle – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Globally, there are currently 70 million displaced people seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. Out of that staggering number, half are children. It’s a shocking fact and one that brings with it a hard wave of poignancy and reflection. Stateless is a series that channels those emotions and funnels them into a 6 episode limited series packing a serious emotional punch.
With three different narratives interwoven together, Stateless turns its attention to the points-based immigration system currently in force in Australia. Inspired by true events (which loosely follow an Australian woman caught inside an Australian Detention Center), Stateless takes a multifaceted view of immigration through the lens of three very different walks of life.
Ameer and his family seek asylum in Australia and during the first episode we see them desperate to make it down under. Along the way, the family find themselves separated and Ameer winds up caught inside Barton Detention Centre for his efforts. This also happens to be the place new recruit Cameron is working at as a guard and his narrative helps us view things behind enemy lines through the eyes of the workers and hierarchical attitudes that dominate this toxic workplace.
The third story is the most volatile and essentially acts as the spark that ignites all the drama that bubbles over throughout the series. Sofie is a woman desperate for love and affection, made worse by her estranged Mother favouring sister Margot and refusing to show her other daughter any sort of love. Having had enough of this, she throws herself headfirst into a questionable self-help group that prey on her vulnerability.
Through fractured flashbacks peppered in across the episodes we learn the full extent of happened to her. Without spoiling anything, there’s certainly more than meets the eye with this character and it brings the topic of mental health right up alongside the volatile discussion of immigration. Expect lots of talk about mental health, the humanitarian crisis and the political implications immigration has at both a national and international level to bleed through every facet of this drama.
Stateless is never preachy or over the top in its depiction of these topics though, instead using plenty of harsh imagery and visual cues to really hone in on the different characters and lets them to express their discomfort and empathy in the wake of what’s happening around them.
While most of the characters do adopt a decent amount of depth and growth across the season, some of the supporting players pale by comparison. Most of the guards suffer this problem, slotting in to simple archetypes of “the newbie” or “the nasty one” without much depth to allow them to grow along the way. Next to Cameron’s conflicted character arc, this is certainly noticeable and a bit disappointing.
Thankfully this is only a minor blemish in what’s otherwise a really well-written series. The editing helps keep an even pacing in this one, with numerous flashbacks and out-of-sequence shots used to keep the mystery and drama high to show what really happened to certain characters in the gaps we’ve missed. By the end of the show, all three narratives crescendo into a beautiful conclusion that leaves plenty of big thematic questions on the table while wrapping things up our ensemble with a bittersweet and humble bow.
Overall, Stateless is a poignant and reflective reminder of just how serious a problem immigration is worldwide. To quote what I said in the finale recap and review, it’s a show that acts as a poignant, harsh reminder that under this glossy facade of “everything’s fine” is a world where very few things are. With three well-written narratives interwoven around this topic, Stateless makes the most of its 6 hour run-time to deliver a series well worth watching.
Verdict - 8.5/10