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chocolatine

Stateless

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From the IMDb description:

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Inspired by true events; a woman escaping a cult, a refugee fleeing with his family, a father trapped in a dead-end job, and a bureaucrat on the verge of a national scandal find their lives intertwined in an immigration detention centre.

I was intrigued by this right off the bat because my family and I were refugees in the 90s (from the former Soviet Union to Germany) and stateless for eight years before we were allowed to apply for German citizenship. Our situation was nothing like that of the characters in this show - we had already been granted refugee status before we left so we entered Germany legally - i.e. safely - and while we had to stay at a bare-bones facility to be processed, it wasn't technically detention since we could leave the facility during the day, and we were there only for a few weeks.

I still have one episode to go, but I had really complicated feelings watching the first five. I think the show wants me to sympathize with the asylum seekers, and I do to a large extent. They have the deck stacked against them; even though it's legal to request asylum, commercial carriers won't transport them without a valid immigration status, so they put themselves in great danger to get smuggled illegally. On the other hand, a government has a duty to its citizens to diligently vet everyone they let into the country, and when someone arrives without any documentation, it's a long process to verify their story. That's why many people have to spend years in UN refugee camps in crisis areas waiting for their petitions to be approved before they can be safely resettled.

My sympathy stops, however, when people become violent, like the person who threw hot food in a guard's face because she told him he couldn't take food out of the mess hall. Of course being detained in such conditions can push a person to the brink, but the only chance to get asylum is to fully cooperate/comply with authorities. Considering that the other option is getting deported and most likely killed, abiding by the rules of the facility is not too much to ask.

As for the Sofie plot, I found it completely over the top and was surprised that it's supposed to be based on a true story. As a flight attendant, wouldn't she have been fingerprinted? And wouldn't everyone who's processed in the detention facility be fingerprinted as well, to check if they had sought asylum under a different name before? It shouldn't have taken more than a couple of days to identify her. That part of the show is the least compelling to me, even though I like Yvonne Strahovski.

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Maybe it is just me, but I feel very uncomfortable with Sofie and her mental illness, or maybe that is the point? She does incredibly stupid things with no good reason whatsoever. From her conflict with her family, her involvement in GOPA, her leaving the airline and her assuming other woman's identity, all seem too absurd for me.

I also agree with you with the violence. Granted that Korvo guards are not the friendliest people, but what do they expect? And what do they want by escaping? That they somehow find their way to a city and live underground as illegals?

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21 hours ago, chocolatine said:

As for the Sofie plot, I found it completely over the top and was surprised that it's supposed to be based on a true story. As a flight attendant, wouldn't she have been fingerprinted? And wouldn't everyone who's processed in the detention facility be fingerprinted as well, to check if they had sought asylum under a different name before? It shouldn't have taken more than a couple of days to identify her. That part of the show is the least compelling to me, even though I like Yvonne Strahovski.

 

9 hours ago, TV Anonymous said:

Maybe it is just me, but I feel very uncomfortable with Sofie and her mental illness, or maybe that is the point? She does incredibly stupid things with no good reason whatsoever. From her conflict with her family, her involvement in GOPA, her leaving the airline and her assuming other woman's identity, all seem too absurd for me.

It might sound "completely over the top" or "too absurd" but it's actually pretty close to what happened in real life. Blanchett's team even consulted the real woman who inspired Sofie and I assume the slight changes to her story might have been a result of that. She really did join a cult, took on a new identity to escape the cult, and wound up in detention for 10 months before she was found following some media interest.

I went in with an idea on what to expect because I started reading about it when news about Stateless came out in 2015. Back then it was announced as just her story. I found The Monthly's article to be the most informative but it needs a subscription. Sites like Popsugar, Mamamia and even Oprah also have articles on her story, however. I got even more interested when I read about the new storylines added.

It has some slow moments and I wanted to know more about Rosna and the Asian lady but I actually really enjoyed Stateless. I found Sofie's and Ameer's stories to be the most compelling: Ameer's because his story, especially his scenes with Mina, is very moving; and Sofie's because of how big of an anomaly that real case was to have led to reforms (that unfortunately proved short-term), and partly because of Strahovski. While I don't think Sofie's story overshadowed the others, Strahovski's performance was head and shoulders above her cast mates.

I think Stateless is something everyone should see. That said, I don't think I have the mental or emotional fortitude to watch this show again in the very near future.

 

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20 hours ago, AnonymousViewer said:

and Sofie's because of how big of an anomaly that real case was to have led to reforms (that unfortunately proved short-term)

The notes at the end of the last episode said that the reform led to moving the detention facilities offshore to places like Papua New Guinea, where they're operated with even less transparency than before. Which doesn't sound like it's in any way an improvement for asylum seekers.

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1 hour ago, chocolatine said:

The notes at the end of the last episode said that the reform led to moving the detention facilities offshore to places like Papua New Guinea, where they're operated with even less transparency than before. Which doesn't sound like it's in any way an improvement for asylum seekers.

I was referring to the reforms that resulted from the public inquiry. From The Conversation: "After Mick Palmer published his report on Rau’s experience, the Howard government took immediate steps to improve transparency and institute independent medical oversight of the detainees. But 12 years after Rau’s torture was revealed, Tony Abbott reversed those protections and Australia’s immigration detention system quickly spiralled into another crisis."

The notes that followed Rau's at the end of the finale were about the resumption of off-shore detention in Nauru and Manus Island in 2012, well after Rau's case.

In other news, for those interested, they are doing podcasts mostly around "some unbelievably true stories from the remarkable people who inspired the characters in Stateless." Guests so far are former refugees and guards.

 

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Thank you for clarifying, @AnonymousViewer. I forgot that the events of the show took place in the early 2000s, so I interpreted the offshore move in 2012 as an immediate consequence of those events.

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