Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

Sarai is a free-lance literature enthusiast who currently works as an academic. An avid horror and fantasy reader she is an advocate for its cultural importance.

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Latest Articles


Latest Topics


How a children's television show band won Australia's national music competition

‘The Wiggles’ are an Australian children’s music group that was formed in 1991. Around 1997 they sold a self financed show to Disney Channel Australia and became a hit. They broke into the USA market in 1998 with successful airing of their show and touring. In 2017 they signed a deal with NBC Universal to be available to 58 million American households. To say they are doing well is an understatement. But why, and how, did a children’s band win a national poll?

Triple J Hottest 100 has been around in different forms since 1988. In 2022 2.5million votes had been submitted for the selection of this years selection. The selection of music is limited to favourite Australian and alternative music of the previous year. The tipping lead was actual Kid Laroi and Justin Beiber’s collaboration. Although largely a popularity vote it is still considered a great honour to be selected onto the top 100 list.

So again, why is a children’s TV show even in the running? For whatever reason The Wiggles were invited to perform on Triple J in ‘Like A Version,’ which is for a band to cover in their own style another’s work. The Wiggles covered Tame Impala’s 2012 song Elephant while also infusing it with a chorus from their song Fruit Salad. That is the song that won.

What happened? Well two main thoughts are: it is nostalgia or it was a joke. Both of these are interesting to pursue at a deeper level.

If this is about nostalgia is this a response to the pandemic life of the last few years? A reach backwards to a simpler time and a happier world? What is it about nostalgia that drives a response stronger than any other factor? Is there a rise in nostalgia driven popular culture due to the pandemic? I’m not actually sure there has been. Instead most of the discussion about nostalgia was happening five years ago around the endless remake and reboot of film and TV.

If it is not nostalgia is it a joke? What is it about Australian culture that drives the desire to use humour in every place? A recent TV show that actively challenges concepts around Indigenous rights and Settlement, ‘Firebite’, uses humour to tackle colonisation. Is humour then more important in Australian popular culture than any other approach? Is this the defining characteristic of Australian popular culture.

  • Good questions, but I think you're jumping topics a bit here. Try broadening from just The Wiggles winning this competition, to an article on how Australian culture handles humor, laughs at itself, etc. – Stephanie M. 3 weeks ago

Mr Big or Aidan? Team Edward or Team Jacob? Angel or Spike? What is it about love triangles that drive fan-fiction?

The love triangle is a well established trope. The most common version is for three people to connected through love, decisions and actions that will determine a final pairing of two. There are many versions and alternatives of these tropes, but they are all largely beloved by readers and viewers. What is it about the love triangle that is so appealing? Is it that it provides a voyeuristic pleasure of imagining yourself in the position of the desiree? To be so desired and pursued by not one but two people? Is it just that the level of anticipation is increased as now there are multiple ways to introduce sexual tension in their interactions? Is it simply that it makes good character foils to highlight the protagonist’s own qualities?

In fandom the obsession with "shipping" couples is a huge driving point for fan-fiction. Whether it is about the impending wars or the impending threesome, it is also about the distinction of choice. Should Carrie have ended up with Aiden? Should Buffy have just had a threesome with Spike and Angel (the comic series in fact implies she’d have been down with that)? Even beyond the main characters there is a lot of repositioning of characters to end up with others. This has also occurred to great affect in better representations of the LGBTQIA community by showing a variety of love options. But again, why do we get so engaged as fans in these love triangles, and with wanting our preferred match to occur?

Love is an universal theme. It is a vital ingredient, whether we are talking romantic or platonic. But viewers love complicated love. Why can’t love be honest and straight forward? Well obviously that would make less of an interesting story for many shows. But is this representation of complicated love healthy? Are love triangles real things? Why is it normalised that it is okay to string along two perfectly decent people because you can’t make a decision or have an honest conversation?

The love triangle – an interesting topic to break apart.

  • “Viewers love complicated love.” I love this. And I am going to play devil’s advocate a little here by asking: Is there such a thing as uncomplicated love? It is, in fact, a legitimate societal pursuit, but maybe fictional representation—especially commercial romance fiction—is exactly looking for that kind of love to depict. – T. Palomino 1 month ago
  • Great topic. Lots of great triangles to draw on. Rory's boyfriends on Gilmore Girls, Jan and Carol to Michael on The Office... It seems a simply intentional act by entertainment programs to have the audience on "teams," rooting for different characters, to warrant giving those characters more or less screen time. – StephRose 1 month ago
  • I think this is a super interesting and relevant topic! I think love triangles really draw on the idea of 'forbidden love'. Usually the person of desire begins with one love interest and then later, finds themselves infatuated with the second love interest (the second being perhaps the more 'forbidden' option of the two, or the one who is usually the more morally ambiguous). Think of Damon and Stephan from the Vampire Diaries as an example for this. Elena first begins with Stephan who is kind, considerate and protective. However after 3 long seasons, Elena finds herself with Damon, the 'bad' guy with a very different moral compass to Stephan. The tension between Elena and Damon is long and suspenseful, peaking interest in audiences; When will they get together? How will they get together? Will they even ever get together? What will happen to Stephan? – celeste239 1 month ago

Biographical truth or the real heart of the story?

‘Dickinson’ is the Apple TV series 2019-2021 about American poet Emily Dickinson. The premise (taken from Anreeva & Pelski 2018) is that Dickinson takes place "during Emily Dickinson’s era with a modern sensibility and tone. It takes viewers into the world of Emily, audaciously exploring the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a budding writer who doesn’t fit in to her own time through her imaginative point of view. Dickinson is Emily’s coming-of-age story – one woman’s fight to get her voice heard."

The best word there is audaciously – the series makes direct use of Dickinson’s actual poetry throughout the series to theme the episodes and to add to a story about a complex poet. Biographies on Dickinson indicate she was an isolated, eccentric and (reading between the lines) anxious woman in a period of relatively large gender, race and class oppression. Little of her poetry was actually published through her life, and most information about her is based on her prolific letter writing. It is easy to see through the series that they have taken great liberties with both her character and her life…but is this a problem? The show itself heavily highlights the oppressive period she lived during and her struggles as a poet and a woman. Many of the themes and topics are ones that resonate with young women today – about finding self, about morality, about understanding life and love and friendship.

It would be interesting to explore this topic in more depth: is there value in taking liberties with a real person’s life and works if it still serves the message or purpose of their story? Can a fictional biography be as meaningful to the contemporary viewer as a real biography? Or is this a betrayal of a woman who suffered enough during her own time?

  • This definitely has the potential to be an interesting article. On thing that I think whoever writes this article should consider is the degree of centrality that Dickinson in particular would bear to the article as a whole. In other words, is this an article principally about the series that asks question about its onus to its historical protagonist, or is it a general inquiry about how fictionalized media should handle the representation of historical figures (using Dickinson as a case study)? Your choice of title implies the latter, but everything else you've written here points more so to the former. There are a lot of interesting films and series right now taking similar approaches to filtering period settings/characters through contemporary sensibilities: e.g. The Great (2020-) and The Death of Stalin (2017) both immediately come to mind, but we could arguably also expand this question into literary adaptations like The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019), Little Women (2019), Emma (2020), Cyrano (2021), and the entire filmography of Baz Luhrmann, since fidelity to a source-text can often be a similar argument to fidelity to the "real" life of a biographical subject. I wonder if the single-case study approach would necessarily do justice to the phenomenon as a whole, especially if that broader analytical goal were framed as the main intent of the article. Just my two cents. – ProtoCanon 4 months ago

Social and television topic changes over time as seen through the lens of Star Trek

Star Trek the television series first debuted in 1966 as what is dubbed ‘The Original Series’ during which the costuming, role allocation and even ethical storytelling both reflected the socio-cultural context of USA, but also challenged and invited complex discussions about morality, ethics and rights. It, and the following original series, walked a fine line of being commercial enough to appeal to audiences as well as being true to the Science-Fiction genre in that it needed to engage in deep discussions about what it means to "be." ‘Enterprise’ was the last of the original broadcasts ending in 2005 before the success of the film "reboot" in 2009. The 2009 film ‘Star Trek’ reinforced a number of stereotypes and cliches that were disappointingly lacking in the nuance of the original series, and for a moment it seemed it was finished with again.

Then came the new television revival with ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ that not only again reflected the excitement and challenges of space exploration, but also touched on the same socio-cultural concerns current in contemporary society. It was a show that began to speak about issues we face in our own world. From here spanned out a range of new shows from ‘Picard’ to ‘Lower Decks’ that each began to broaden the world of Star Trek, but also found new ways to engage in important conversations.

An article looking at the different discussions, topics and socio-cultural confirmations and challenges across the timeline of Star Trek would be fascinating. It is one of very few shows to have spanned such a large period of time on television that has not simply reflected back social norms. I would be interested to see a deeper analysis of this topic.


    A new Foundation

    The new TV show ‘Foundation’ from Apple is an imagining of Isaac Asimov’s novella series of the same name. With an initial two episode drop the show has already received mixed reviews.

    As always it is difficult to deal with any type of adaptation. There will always be those for whom the original material, and their personal experience with it, cannot be eclipsed. However, the point of adaptations is to allow a re-imagining of source material within the context of the period it is re-produced in. Even the nay-sayers have to admit this depiction of the fall of a great Empire, corrupt and dystopic, underpinned by a focus on a ‘genetic legacy’ that infers an extreme type of nepotism, is as extremely relevant in message and content today as it was when Asimov wrote it.

    Already in two episodes the show has raised a myriad of questions about religion, politics, and technology that have contemporary value. A discussion of the original work and its social connections, which is then compared to the changes made in the show that reflect the social concerns of today, would be a valuable discussion to have. It would be interesting to examine the changes made by the showrunners, and how that fits within the socio-political and technological landscape of today.

    • I think this would be a great topic! As you say, an adaptations must be considered in regard to the context it is adapting source material into but I think analysing the context of the source material as well would be helpful as well. I think a comparative approach with reference to the similarities and differences between Asimov's context and our own would lead to a great discussion. Especially, as the argument could be applied to many adaptations that have be re-produced about these days (or will be coming out, for example the upcoming Dune movie). – HarryP 6 months ago

    Moral choices in Resident Alien

    TV show ‘Resident Alien’ is new this year from Sci-fi. The premise concerns an alien who crashes to Earth in a remote Colorado mountain town and assumes the identity of the town doctor.

    The TV show on the surface is a wacky comedy-drama about an alien trying to pass as human and engaging in a variety of ridiculous endeavours, including a war with a 9 year old who sees through his from.
    However, beneath the surface are a number of discussions about adoption, Native American experiences, toxic relationships and abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and the damage of lost dreams. All of this seems to fit within the scope of a small town and a dramedy, but the depth of consequence is sustained and examined in a very thought provoking manner.

    The other massive story plot point is "Harry’s" (the alien) original intention, which is to destroy Earth. The first half of the series centers around his need to find the item that will allow him to do this. An expectation is set forward that perhaps he will change his mind due to his relationships with the people of the town. However, it is revealed that Harry’s people have visited Earth for thousands of years, and the decision to wipe out humanity is in response to the degradation they have caused the Earth and the potential consequences of our refusal to make the changes the Earth needs. This framing poses the question about the right of life, the impact of choices and the issue that humankind will eventually need to face the consequences of inaction (although maybe not from alien threats!).

    QUESTION (Safe to read again):
    The moral questions being raised in the show are not simple, and the show is not offering easy, quick solutions, but rather examining the deeper impact of being trapped in toxic cycles and the roll on effect of consequences from choices.
    Once the show has finished I think it would be an interesting case study to explore the use of dramedy genres to raise important questions, and to evaluate the complexity of the moral decisions being raised that face humankind today (and with this the consequences of continued inaction).

    • Just to address the suggested Revision - I think it is important to not only look at texts from a structural (functional) perspective - this indeed has value, but I don't believe Resident Alien is actually innovating in the approaches to TV elements. Rather it is the choice of a very traditional approach to tropes and concepts but is actually addressing the issues rather than the usual "just a joke" approach of sit-coms. However, if someone wanted to delve into the stylistic choices they could but that would be a different topic. – Sarai Mannolini-Winwood 1 year ago
    • Oooh, I love a good moral dilemma! Nice topic! – Stephanie M. 1 year ago

    Is Queen Latifah Equalizing racism in her new show?

    The Equalizer is a new to TV series from CBS starring Queen Latifah.
    The show is a reboot from an original TV show in the 1980s, which was rebooted in film in 2014. It is not a hugely new concept – ex-CIA agent who felt politics constrained the ability to provide justice, but it is a concept audiences respond well to. What the new version brings is an older female lead who is also a Black American and the accompanying cast reflects a move to greater diversity. The plots of the first four episodes tend to focus on racial injustices as well as wider political discussions, such as wealth/white privilege, kidnapping, sex trafficking, financing terrorism and corrupt judges.

    The choice made in the lead and the messages within the stories tend to focus on racial experiences in USA are really important conversations to be had. However, there needs to be an exploration of the balance present: how well is the show representing equality and experience in America? How is gender and race explored? How does the show add to the conversations around Black Lives Matter and racial tensions in the USA?

    A discussion could also be made to examine how this genre of spy/crime tropes have been developed since the original and if this is contributing to wider concepts of new storytelling.


      Is the new Charmed having all the important conversations?

      ‘Charmed’ a reboot of the late 90s show was released in 2019 with a new cast, new plot lines but also a lot of overlap in narrative, mythos and setting. The story is of three sisters who are witches with the special "power of three." The first big difference is the move from three visually "white" American actors to three mixed-heritage women representing Hispanic and Black American culture. The show also introduces the white-lighter as head of Women’s Studies (a controversial cis-male), a lesbian relationship, a 28 year old virgin and a stereotypical teen wanting to join the Greek systems at her college. From the start the line up is unusual and (from my perspective) wonderful.
      The new ‘Charmed’ is also engaging in some interesting, and timely conversations, around women’s rights, identity, gender, white privilege, rape culture, race identity, transhumanism and more.

      But is this a deep engagement with the important conversations that need to be happening, or is this simply a response to popular culture and trending?
      A deep analysis of the new show would be beneficial to help examine if this TV show is moving towards culturally responsible storytelling or cashing in on hashtags.

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        Latest Comments

        Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

        What a fascinating topic and a really good, comprehensive read with some amazing points made – thank you for sharing this.

        Are Disability and Death Inextricable?
        Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

        Sounds very interesting, thanks for the suggestion Kemp!

        How Australian is Australian Urban Fantasy?
        Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

        Thank you for all your suggestions – Warrren, Mort and Hellowom – I appreciate it 🙂

        How Australian is Australian Urban Fantasy?
        Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

        Oh my goodness! Thanks Ulielo and I hope you enjoy the novel – amazing piece of writing 🙂

        How Australian is Australian Urban Fantasy?
        Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

        Thanks Guadalupe, I will check it out 🙂

        How Australian is Australian Urban Fantasy?
        Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

        Thanks for the suggestion Kaylee, I will check it out!

        How Australian is Australian Urban Fantasy?
        Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

        YA still relevant! Thanks for suggestion Regina.

        How Australian is Australian Urban Fantasy?
        Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

        Thank you for your amazing response Krish – you made some really excellent points here.
        It is indeed an issue in the industry and milieu to avoid the Australian context and something that I think is now starting to emerge in more meaningful ways 🙂

        How Australian is Australian Urban Fantasy?