Friday, 10 December 2010

TV Series: The Tribe

"The Tribe" is a New Zealand TV series that ran for five years from 1999 to 2003. It was a real New Zealand series, not an American series filmed in New Zealand like "Hercules" or "Xena". It is set in the near future after a virus has wiped out the whole of the world's adult population. Only the children have survived.

The subject matter of the series makes it very difficult to classify. It also means that the series trod a dangerous line, and was eventually cancelled because it was too daring. Most of the actors in the series were aged between 10 and 16 when they entered the show. Optically this made it look like a children's show. This is the impression I had of it when I first saw it on television. Indeed, on British television it was shown at 4pm in the afternoon, in the middle of children's shows. But wait! Look at the show's subject matter.

Despite all the actors being children, it's a very adult oriented show. The children realise that the human race needs to survive, so sex is a necessity. Don't worry, the show isn't tasteless enough to portray children in intimate situations, but it's common to see young girls carrying babies on their arms. The whole story asks the question what would happen if the adults who had made the laws suddenly disappeared. The children have to stand for themselves and make their own laws.

Unfortunately, the new society isn't as perfect as young teenagers might expect. Instead of law and order the new society's motto is "Power and chaos". The school bullies soon become the leaders, murdering those who oppose them. Other children are made slaves and sent out to work tilling the fields. Rather than a centralised government a series of small tribes arise, each with their own style and face painting, and all at war with one another. A new religious cult arises which is more brutal than any of the tribes. While most of the resistance is based around terror attacks, a young girl has more success seducing the cult's leader to weaken the movement from within.

One of the main companies funding the series was Channel 4, a British television channel. There were constant complaints from Channel 4 about the content, but the final straw was a lesbian relationship in the fifth season. Channel 4 said that this was unsuitable for a children's show and should be stopped. The Tribe's producers said that it wasn't intended to be a children's show and refused to back down. Channel 4 withdrew their funding, and it was cancelled.

If you want to watch "The Tribe" you will have to buy the English DVD boxsets, Region 2 PAL. It's doubtful the series will ever be released in America.

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