Patrick Reid died last week. He was hit by a car, initially sustaining some grazing to the elbow and minor dizziness. Then, in his partner, Nina's car, on the way to hospital, his speech slurred and he passed out. He was taken into emergency surgery but there was nothing doctors could do for him. A surgeon grimly delivered the news to Nina and Patrick's sister, Kate. Patrick was mid 30s, an anaesthetist and was about to become a father. He was very attractive and loved by many. His death was the top news story on Australian news websites, trended on Twitter and discussed on radio news the following morning. There was a public outpouring of grief. A collective grief.
Yesterday it was Patrick's funeral. Patrick's death has meant Nina Proudman was left to give birth to and raise Patrick's child alone. "How do you grieve for a man and prepare for a baby at the same time?", Nina asked. She was surrounded by her family, and Patrick visited her and her new baby daughter in her imagination.
I was a little sad at Patrick's onscreen death. I watched that episode with Tash - we were debating who might die, looking for little clues within the episode.
I think following along with the Twitter commentary made me feel a little more invested in Patrick's character than I'd ordinarily be. Patrick wasn't my favourite in Offspring (I'm more of a Mick girl), and to be honest, I haven't enjoyed this season as much as the previous two. But seeing others engage in the discussion online made me become involved in the collective grief of a TV character. Seems silly, doesn't it?
Patrick's death didn't make me sob like other TV character deaths - maybe it was because I watched Offspring in company, or maybe it was because of my feelings for Offspring this season? When Lou died in Love My Way, I cried for ages. And I'd watched that episode in isolation from the series - I hadn't seen the show prior to Lou's death. I was also sad when Grace died in Rush - though my fandom for Callan Mulvey (and love for Josh in Rush) probably played a big part. And I cried over Mel Rafter's death in Packed to the Rafters.
Patrick hasn't been in Offspring since episode one, but he's resonated with viewers because of how happy he's made Nina and the baby they were having together. And, let's face it - he's hot.
Do we grieve for Patrick more because he's so hot, I wonder? The online commentary certainly suggests we do.
Many viewers took to social media to voice their grief, and anger towards the writers. There was so much discussion about Offspring the TV show on Twitter that Offspring the band wondered what all the fuss was about! And Kat Stewart, who plays Billie, admitted that some of the cast got together to watch Patrick's death, and followed the Twitter feed. Have viewers always been this angry or is it spurred on by social media? I guess it's a place to instantly air grief and complaints. The official Offspring Facebook page copped a beating. And some cute admissions:
There also seems to be more real news coverage about Patrick's death than some real deaths. We are seeing a lot talk a lot about certain murders being more prominent than others, and I imagine the excessive coverage of a TV characters death would feel quite insulting and upsetting for those grieving for a loved one in real life. Last week Patrick's death was one of the top stories on both News Limited and Fairfax, throughout the week there have been articles about the impact of Patrick's death, and even yesterday it was a top news story, just to keep the momentum up, I guess. In case we had forgotten PATRICK REID DIED LAST WEEK!
Humorously, even the NSW police commented on his death. Great effort by the social media team!
It was all quite OTT.
TV shows and characters become a big part of our lives. We relate, we want to be friends with them, we feel similar emotions for them as we do for our loved-ones. The mainstream media and social media has made us interact with TV shows in a way we haven't done before. Fairfax has daily recaps of TV shows like Masterchef and Game of Thrones - something I don't entirely agree with, because TV programs are not news. TV has become far more interactive with live tweeting, and also interaction with the actors, reality program contestants and judges, producers and programs/stations' presence on social media. It's definitely an element of media convergence.
While there was outrage over Patrick's death, Offspring carried an important message. What moved me the most was the message about Donate Life that was slipped in. My eyes welled up at Nina being asked about Patrick's organ donor status. Patrick believed in organ donation and he'd discussed his wishes with Nina. Camille was an organ recipient this year, a little over six months ago, and I thought of her during the discussion between Nina and the organ donor coordinator. It meant so much that this important message was being discussed on prime time TV. Especially when Patrick's death had such an impact.
So many people are talking about Patrick Reid's death. It has been the TV death that stopped a nation. Channel 10 pitched the episode of his funeral as "one night of drama you'll truly never forget". I really hope Patrick's fans are influenced by his death enough to consider registering to be an organ donor.
The OTT media coverage aside, the final two episodes of series four of Offspring showed real love between family and lovers, real loss, real grief and real emotions. It covered themes of sudden life change, what it might be like to be left as a single mother prior to birth, and the importance of discussing your wishes to be an organ donor. It was no wonder we felt real emotions. A great job done by the writers.
('1000 Sundowns' by Emma Louise was played during Patrick's funeral.)
How are you taking Patrick's death?
Have you been affected by the death of a TV character?
Do you think the coverage is all a bit OTT?