Written by Sarah Herrmann
2021 is the year of the ox. Not only did it consist of an opulent transformation for the Kingsford Homestead and hint at a feature film on the horizon, it also marks the 20th anniversary of beloved South Australian television series, McLeod’s Daughters.
It’s one for the ages, timeless, a legacy. With its charming theme song, stellar cast and picturesque scenery, McLeod’s Daughters is proof that there’s nothing like a homegrown drama. There’s something about recognising the Worcestershire sauce on their dining table as the same one that’s in your own pantry. Pride over Worcestershire sauce? Well, not exactly.
As a country girl, I suppose it’s strange that it took me 18 years to watch McLeod’s Daughters. My mum had always told me Claire’s death was the most devastating television experience she’d ever had. So, I knew what to expect, but that didn’t make it any easier, nor any less revealing. I never did have an appreciation for growing up on a farm – the bareness, the isolation, the potholes.
But McLeod’s reignited the privilege to have grown up on Ngadjuri land. The bliss of the simple life: breathing fresh air, hearing silence, riding in the ute tray. To have been a small part of a big story. While it may not have been entirely true, it was joyous. And there are millions more who have loved the show in their own way.
Despite a lack of diversity and the promotion of the cruelty that is rodeo, the show did portray women in the workplace and female leaders, single parenting and blended families, sexual assault, and mental health in what was still a somewhat stigmatised climate. It also highlighted rural topics such as organic agriculture, multigenerational farming, neighbourly rapport versus animosity, drought, and the lack of facilities in remote areas.
The show was also responsible for raising now household-name talents of the Australian television scene including Rodger Corser, Bridie Carter and Brett Tucker. These actors portrayed characters with depth, personality, relatability, and an enduring effect on audiences.
(Mar 21–Apr 19)
Jodi Fountain McLeod
Effervescent, babbling, and slightly obnoxious girly girl. But – simultaneously – sharply, confidently and competitively holds her own. Secretly slightly insecure.
(Apr 20–May 20)
Alpha female who knows who she is, what she wants, and takes no shit. Super straightforward, strong-willed and stubborn. The heart and soul – McLeod’s Daughters died with Claire imo.
(May 21– Jun 20)
Tess Silverman McLeod-Ryan
Nosy, boisterous and sensitive, but helpful, kind-hearted and friendly. Hardcore overthinker and overspeaker. Reads between the lines, believes in all the whimsy, and tries her hand at everything.
(Jun 21–Jul 22)
Meg Fountain, Harry Ryan
Legit mum of the group. Ever-present advice giver and empath. Wise and loyal provider, awkward dancer, and wordsmith.
Cunning but with a genuinely good and generous heart. Family-oriented, sentimental and proud. “Gruff, straight-talking man of the land.”
(Jul 23–Aug 22)
Sarcastic loudmouth, tough guy and jokester. Hard on the outside and soft within. Stubbornly protects the ones he loves, considerately reads others’ feelings and hates “knobs”.
(Aug 23–Sep 22)
Meticulous and extremely organised but ungraceful and shy. Rule-follower and list-maker. Timid worry wart and strict designated driver.
(Sep 23–Oct 22)
Gets along with and wants the best for everyone. Gentle, caring and quirky barrel of laffs. Laidback, peace-keeping muso.
(Oct 23–Nov 21)
Outwardly badass and show-offy, yet inwardly guarded and distrusting. Feisty and fearless, mysterious and secretive. Seeks out security and partnership from long-time adventure and uncertainty.
(Nov 22–Dec 21)
A self-professed Sag. Hides past trauma with extroverted, unfiltered but well-meaning comedy. Foolish cheeky bugger, and lowkey a bit of a prick.
(Dec 22–Jan 19)
Independent and hardworking but hurt and often silent. Determined to prove herself and make the future better than the past. Wants control and to simply fit.
(Jan 20–Feb 18)
Volatile, tending to backstab and misplace trust. Lonely, though, and frantic for companionship. Confusing? Misunderstood? Or perhaps exactly who you think she is.
(Feb 19–Mar 20)
Sensitive, sweet and considerate. Brooding, romantic, and king of forehead kisses. Gives a smashing piano rendition of Hot Chilli Woman.
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