McLeod’s Daughters had an eight-season run and most of those seasons had 30-plus episodes. So, I watched a lot of McLeod’s daughters. A. Lot. And I became consumed with knowing what could possibly happen next. Until what happened next became so stupid I had to play Candy Crush Saga the whole time to distract myself from what I was watching. And then it became so bad that even Crushin’ it couldn’t soothe the devastating disappointment I felt at every single aspect of the show and I had to skip ahead to the episodes that imdb told me would be important.
With all this said, I have to admit, if you’re looking for something to watch, check out the first 3 or 4 seasons of McLeod’s Daughters. It’s fun and the characters are great.
The show chronicles the reunion of sisters Claire and Tess, who were separated when their father and Tess’ mother divorced. When their dad dies, Tess returns to Drover’s Run — a stunning ranch in the Australian bush — to cash in on her inheritance so she can move on with her dreams. Of course, her dreams evolve over the course of the first season as Drover’s sinks its farmy fingers right into her heart. The women of Drover’s provide lots of empowering moments after Claire fires all the men and decides to run the ranch with Tess and a handful of other gals. The result: sisterly devotion unfolding before your very eyes. It’s nice and heartfelt and the actors bring a lot of honesty to these roles.
Which is why it’s so incredibly offensive when it all goes wrong.
This show is a soap opera in the best sense of the words. It is super dramatic, the characters are ultra angsty and the plots at times tend toward ridiculous. But all this is excusable and even believable if the writing stays authentic to the characters. For several seasons, McLeod’s Daughters did. People die, crops perish and opportunities for happiness are missed — but these are the events that shape us as human beings. Writers can make horrible things happen to characters and we, as their audience, will love every second of buying it. But only as long as we can believe that these characters are reacting in the only way they know how given what we’ve seen of the scope of their emotion life.
For four seasons, McLeod’s Daughters did this. And then it jumped the shark. (Sidenote: I actually looked up “jump the shark” because of this show. Good to know.)
My mom got me hooked on this show and I’m glad for it. There were enough moments of true joy and I wouldn’t trade them, despite wishing I’d never seen all the stupid shit that happened after. We both became extremely depressed while watching this show, and I took to making up alternate plot lines so we could feel better about life in general. So I am going to save everyone the trouble. If you do decide to watch McLeod’s Daughters, watch from the beginning through Season 4 Episode 5. Then, take heart, the couple you want to get together, gets together. You can skip ahead to Season 4 Episode 19 and watch their romance progress further through Episode 28, at which point you should absolutely stop watching. They live happily ever after.
If, at that point, you are concerned about the eternal happiness of Dave Brewer, watch Season 6 Episode 32, which is super cute. And you will probably need to know that Alex Ryan is OK, so you should also watch Season 7 Episodes 10 and 16. But skip all the scenes with characters you don’t know about because new characters stopped being interesting somewhere in the midst of those episodes you skipped. And seriously, all you need to know is that THEY ALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. They DON’T all die or get diagnosed with chronic and potentially terminal illnesses. They don’t have bastard children that threaten to break up their marriages and they don’t move to other continents or go into witness protection in plot twists that make no sense other than to write actors who no longer want to be on off of the show. And when they finally admit that they are so irrevocably IN LOVE with each other that they ride off into the sunset, they don’t inexplicably return to Drover’s Run just because the series needed a few familiar faces to boost slumping ratings.
Now might be a good time for me to talk about chasing romance, which is often the root of my binge-watching habit. This is absolutely why I watched so many episodes of McLeod’s Daughters. I chased romances all over Drover’s Run and was ultimately disappointed in almost every one. But when they were good, they were great and I watched hundreds of episodes because I genuinely wanted the characters to get together and be happy. I even went back and watched the super romancey scenes over again, they were that good. (This is another bad habit. Please never ask how many times I’ve re-watched every great Veronica-Logan scene because I am a terrible liar and it will force me to admit I couldn’t possibly count the hours I’ve spent on YouTube watching LoVe compilations.)
A quick note on how unnecessary research can ruin everything: I also have a really bad habit of obsessively Googling and imdbing shows while I’m immersed. I read the worst spoiler ever in the bio of the actress who plays Claire and had to deal with that terrible knowledge over the course of two extremely long seasons. In the end, it wasn’t one of the horribly unbelievable plot points that made so much of the later seasons of this show massively depressing. It fit and sort of catapulted the other characters in a really interesting way. But I still would have preferred not knowing. Word to the wise: Don’t succumb to the unnecessary research. Sometimes you find out things you don’t want to know.
One final thing I almost forgot to mention: I really appreciate the fact that the actors are genuinely dirty through most of the show. It doesn’t look like the dirt was applied as a part of the costume, they look as though they were actually rolling around with horses and cows and alpaca.
In the end, there are probably 90 or so genuinely good episodes of McLeod’s Daughters. That would be pretty solid except for the fact that there were 224 episodes total. Still, it was fun to watch if only for the fact that Mom and I referred to everyone as “blokes” and started saying “right-o” all the time. We stopped just short of signing off our phone calls with “tiddle-poo,” but now at least we know it’s an option.