You might expect a series called Total Control would be about politics. The original working title for the series was Black B*tch
Deborah Mailman plays an indigenous woman in outback Queensland who is coopted by a conservative government headed by PM Rachel Anderson (played by Rachel Griffiths).
The PM wants a replacement Senator, and Alex Irving, a charismatic indigenous woman currently in the media spotlight for facing off against a raving gunman, fits the bill. (The working title, “Black Bitch”, referred to the gunman’s name-calling at Alex.)
Alex is nominated as a replacement for the Senator, and joins the Government ranks in Canberra. The PM asks Alex to negotiate with the traditional owners about setting up a new US base in Alex’s home town, Winton, Queensland. Understandably, this is not an easy task — particularly with some of Alex’s history in the town.
Ultimately, she manages to negotiate an impressive deal for the traditional owners. Politics means the PM reneges on some key aspects of the deal. Alex is not impressed when betrayed by the PM. Revenge is sweet.
There’s another interesting plot dealing with aboriginal deaths in custody, where Alex tracks down a witness — a young aboriginal woman — to the events.
An excellent series, densely written, with lots of commentary on current conservative Australian politics. Directed by Rachel Perkins.
[Deborah Mailman took out the 2019 Aacta award for best lead in a television drama for her role in ABC political series Total Control, which also won best drama]
Currently available on the ABC’s iview: https://iview.abc.net.au/show/total-control