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


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 2 years 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 3 years ago
    • Oooh, I love a good moral dilemma! Nice topic! – Stephanie M. 3 years 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.


        Warrior nuns...really?

        A bizarre name that can as easily put you off as draw you in – ‘Warrior Nun’ (WN) is the latest TV series from Netflix. It is based, unsurprisingly, on a comic book character by Ben Dunn. It tells the story of a young woman who is reincarnated by an angel’s halo during an attack by demons on a sect of warrior nuns. The presence of the halo in her body, when the previous Warrior Nun died gives her abilities and a new life.

        Sounds ridiculous right?
        It is. It is also a fascinating look at a range of new archetypal roles around women that are becoming increasingly popular in TV and film. Similar in format to the ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ with the focus on a military-esque sect of women only warriors it pushes against traditional gender stereotypes and a patriarchal society. WN actively critiques concepts of free will, religious determination and the complexity of friendship. It has a Buffy feel that fits within the scope of a traditional monomyth narrative, but also brings new perspectives that consider issues of racial roles and language. Much of the dogma linked to the catholic church is considered and critiqued within the way the myth of the halo and the order is presented. It further utilises a fantastic bilingual approach that Netflix does seem to be actively beginning to incorporate, whereby any Spanish spoken in the show is not subtitled, but at points where Italian or other languages are used these are provided with subtitles.

        The show is worth a deeper analysis both for the development of themes and ideas that are reflecting changing perspectives on gender, race and religion, but also from the perspective of wider changes that are being reflected through the stable of shows from Netflix and other show providers. What do you think?

        • Excuse me for playing Devil's advocate here, but what is the point in a streaming service not subtitling one specific language that many of its viewers do not speak, and yet subtitling other languages? As a subtitler, I'd hardly consider this to be a 'fantastic bilingual approach.' An explanation please. – Amyus 4 years ago
        • Spanish is the second highest spoken language in the United States behind English. That's about forty-one million people speaking Spanish in their homes in America, not to mention that it is also the most frequently taught secondary language in America too. To me this seems to encourages people to learn and understand a language that may not be native to them while also catering to a large section of their audience that it is native to. You could also consider that this show is available in Spanish speaking countries, too, so Netflix just nabbed a huge section of their world-wide viewing audience in one fell swoop. Point being, many of its viewers do in fact speak it and that number is increasing. – FarPlanet 4 years ago
        • "Warrior nuns"--two words i never thought would go together. Sounds fascinating! – Stephanie M. 4 years ago
        • I don't know what to think. If it's not lambasting the Church and mocking nuns, great. On the other hand, I can see a lot of things Catholics/Christians will take issue with. I look forward to this article with great interest. – OkaNaimo0819 4 years ago
        • I just assumed this was an outgrowth of the movie "Priest." – Joseph Cernik 4 years ago

        Star Trek: The commitment to storytelling

        At the time I loved the new Star Trek movies. They were exciting, full of space travel, linked to nostalgia and full of "larger than life" characters. However, a re-watch of these was almost as painful as re-watching the Fast and the Furious series; instead of vivid I realised the characters were one-dimensional, stereotyped, almost all white and when I actually took note of the ridiculous 70s dresses of the women, actually quite insulting.

        Now this realisation did not occur randomly, this was the result of returning to re-watch the films after completing the TV series Star Trek Discovery – and what I discovered was that the films lived up to the franchise (hated by fans, full of over blown situations and lacking the depth of storytelling in the shows). Now with the launch of Star Trek Picard I am blown away by the commitment to storytelling in both the shows. The focus is on personal growth, the difficulty of sticking to your convictions, taking responsibility for your actions, understanding the complexity of dealing with people (human and alien) and it is committed to showing diversity.

        I think there is a lot in the new Star Treks that is showing the way forward for all TV – in a post MeToo world, in a post Black Panther world, it is not acceptable to continue to show narrow stereotyped, outdated and offensive perspectives. We often talk about the power of pop-culture and mainstream entertainment because it does offer a platform to not only reflect the world, but offer paths to change. This is a lot of lauding and pressure to place on a set of sci-fi TV shows, but I think Star Trek has more to teach us, even if it is just a better commitment to storytelling. What do you think?


          Space yoga, red lighting to sell meat, and terrible decisions on Avenue 5

          Avenue 5 is a recently released HBO touted as sci-fi comedy, as was Orville, however, the difference is astounding. A5 appears to be taking a more "reality show" approach to storytelling. The cinematography moves between constant vignettes that hone in on the various character groups, and then multi-character scenes are shot in an often long framing to appear as the fly on the wall while you watch characters shout over each other in a very "naturalistic" dialogue approach. The focus so far seems to be on the lack of competence of everyone involved. This reality/sit-com approach is especially unusual in sci-fi and even though Orville began with elements of this it rapidly became a Space Opera with focuses on moralistic decision making and character growth. I’m not sure if we are going to see that occur on A5. But does that matter? A5 appears to be offering a new take on sci-fi which could open the genre wider to further hybrid versions. A deeper analysis is needed to look at what A5 offers the genre.

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            Latest Comments

            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            A great quick little read thanks. I really enjoyed this film, it suckerpunched me with the feels!

            Clerks, and the value of the "Downer Ending"
            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 ๐Ÿ™‚

            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 ๐Ÿ™‚

            How Australian is Australian Urban Fantasy?
            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            Thanks Guadalupe, I will check it out ๐Ÿ™‚

            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?