If you live in Australia, it’s not too late to start watching the best two hours of weekly quality American television documentary we have going right now. Appearing each Tuesday evening on SBS One are two outstanding (and astonishingly relevant) four-part series: America in Prime Time (about American television) at 8.30pm and Clinton (part of the “American Experience” series, about Bill and Hillary Clinton) at 9.30pm.
These two series (we have had the first two hour-long episodes of the four already) go well beyond the breathless reporting on American media/culture (the former series) and politics (the latter series) that usually passes for “informed” analysis. Both were produced originally for the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network (yes, the one that Mitt Romney wanted to “de-fund”).
The Clinton series also has extraordinary timing: Hillary Clinton just visited Australia, in Perth for a series of meetings with senior Australian politicians for “AUSMIN” talks. The difference between the Hillary Clinton we saw this past week on the SBS (the early, naive, years of the Clinton Administration in 1993) and the Hillary of now – November 2012 – is amazing. The poised, confident and experienced politician Hillary has moved a long way in the last 19 years. She is also a political survivor, and able to reinvent herself successfully – first as a very successful Senator from the State of New York and then as a very successful Secretary of State (and hey, didn’t she just help broker the Israel-Gaza cease fire?). She tried for the Presidency three years ago, losing the nomination to Barack Obama, and she may yet try again in 2016. Somehow I doubt it, but that still does not diminish the oustandingly successful journey she has been on during the last eight to ten years.
Interested in reading more about the Clintons? The US PBS network has helpfully put together an online bibliography.