Woman’s Day and New Idea are household names in Australia, but they
have no always been. Back in the early 1980’s, New Idea, headed by
editor, Dulce Boling (Rachel Griffiths) was the top seller on the
newsstands. When Kerry Packer (Rob Carlton) buys into magazine,
Woman’s Day, he appoints Nene King (Mandy McElhinney) as editor in
chief. King, who was once employed by Boling at New Idea, has her
own personal battle to fight with the opposing glossie. She sets out
not just to make sure her magazine succeeds, but to make sure she
comes out as number one.
Paper Giants: Magazine Wars is a tricky one. On one hand, it
is a great historical biopic and that is a good thing. The
mini-series completely captures the time period of the 1980’s. There
are some fantastic montages of the news story worthy moments, trends
and songs of the decade which could either make you nostalgic or
make you glad that we have moved on from those times. It really does
a good job of recreating Australia in that decade. However, on the
other hand this is problematic when making this mini-series
attractive for international audience. Paper Giants is so
very Australian in every way that it is not relatable for anyone but
Australians. There is a lot here which won’t seem to be of any
importance, interest or entertainment to non-Australians. This is
really just a television show for Australians about Australians, and
therefore only has a small designated target audience.
Even though Paper Giants is interesting enough for this
audience, it has no emotional depth. The characters themselves are
well constructed, but you really feel for any of them. Yes you do
take sides in this Magazine War, but nothing in this mini-series
shakes you to the core. It is more a bit of fun than anything else.
There are a few giggles and the takes on celebrities such as Kylie
Minogue are hilarious.
The performances in this mini-series are fine, but not
extraordinary. Mandy McElhinney (who is more well known as Rhonda in
the AAMI commercials) does well as Nene King, but at times her
character almost just seems tacky. This may be the way Nene King was
seen to be in real life, but the character just comes across
annoying and over the top. Rachel Griffiths is fine, but her
character is really quite dull and doesn’t seem to change in manner
throughout the whole series.