Representation done right.
Black Snow has the sleek style of a modern murder mystery, but its concern with Australia’s colonial past that sets this show apart. As a neo-noir series centered on a murder, the show has all the classic elements: the hardboiled detective, the suspicious townsfolk, and the murder. As the murder is set in 1994, nostalgic summer-tinged high school scenes make it easy to root for justice for the show’s young victim.
But the series stands out as it's always mindful of Isabel Baker, always concerned with her and her dynamics with her friends, family, and her South Sea Islander (ASSI) community. Supported by the strong performance of newcomer Talijah Blackman-Corowa, and even consulting the ASSI community personally in the show’s development and production, Black Snow is excellent not just as a murder mystery but also as a depiction of a community that's rarely portrayed on screen.
It’s clear that the show has genuine intentions in accurately portraying the ASSI community. On screen, the show remains focused on Isabel Baker, more so than the white detective investigating the case, and most of the introduction establishes her and her sister as full-fledged characters.
But efforts were also made behind the scenes to ensure authentic depiction. Casting is accurate, with talented newcomers Blackman-Corowa and Jemmason Power in their roster. Scenes were filmed in Proserpine, North Queensland, which is one of the last rural towns that still have their big 1800s sugar mills. The show’s best soundtracks were written and performed by the Tanna Island’s Bethel Community, with rhythmic drums and lyrics in the local language. These efforts prove fruitful in grounding the depictions of their struggles.
What did you think? Who should watch it?