Is the gardener dead? Inside the 21st birthday in Aotearoa


Re:News made a documentary series about the 21-year-olds and there’s kind of not a single yardie.

There is, however, the promise of a yardie.

By Maggie Shui from Regarding:

We hear those ambitious words delivered confidently on camera by Rāwhiti’s twin brother, Ivan, in episode four.

“For our 21st party, we’re going to be doing hella yardies.”

But, spoiler alert, Ivan’s grand vision hasn’t come to fruition, and the series ends with no yard glass in sight.

2000s Baby is a docuseries that follows five people born in the 2000s as they approach their 21st birthdays.

In each episode, a baby from the 2000s shows us what it’s like to “become an adult” in his part of Aotearoa. Fittingly, the series came out during Youth Week.

IVAN AND RAWHITI

Ivan and his twin brother Rāwhiti.  Photo: Maggie Shui

So if you don’t get down on your knees to scull 2.7 liters of beer in front of your dearest friends and family, what does turning 21 look like?

For starters, it feels like entering a new era with your parents.

We don’t see any gardeners, but we see all of the show’s 2000s babies trying to connect more deeply with their parents, revealing previously hidden facets of themselves, and bringing the people they know more fully. love the most in their life.

TRISTAN

Tristan and his boyfriend Bo.

The second episode follows Tristan, a theater graduate and proud owner of multiple Ariana Grande perfumes.

By the time he turns 21, he wants to have told his parents he has a boyfriend – in effect, to “come out” to them.

Ultimately, Tristan wants to be free to be himself with his family.

When he is back in the Philippines, he is always told to talk more.

“But I feel like I can’t,” Tristan says, “because I’m playing this whole other person.”

In episode three, Alison longs for that easy acceptance and adult friendship she sees her friends sharing with their parents.

ALISON

Alison and her parents at dinner.  Photo: Liam van Eeden

She wants her parents to support her acting dreams and relax about her lip filler.

But above all, she just wants to be able to confide in them as if she were a best friend and, like Tristan, to share her life more with them.

When you add the extra layer of growing up in a different cultural background to your parents (Alison is a Chinese New Zealander and came to Tāmaki Makaurau from Dalian, China with her whānau when she was three), making those connections can be more difficult, and even painful.

MICHA

Misha and her dog, Bimbo.  Photo: Liam van Eeden

Another takeaway from 2000s Baby was that 21 is still a big deal.

Even though the concept of the series we were doing was literally based on the fact that turning 21 is a milestone, we were still surprised at how much it was.

It’s a milestone that each of our 2000s babies attaches dreams, rituals, and life decisions to.

And it’s truly heartbreaking when it doesn’t go as planned (2000’s 21st Baby was filled with Covid drama, most of which was too convoluted to make it into the series).

POE TIARE

Poe Tiare and her brother Troy.  Photo: Baz Macdonald

We are more secular than ever and more critical of entrenched ways. It can feel like tradition is becoming less and less relevant.

But, humans love a ritual.

They give us a reason to celebrate and tell people we love what they mean to us. They imbue key moments in our lives with meaning and holiness.

Join Alison, Misha, Poe Tiare, Rāwhiti and Tristan on their journeys to 21.

It was very cool to be a part of their milestones and now share them with you.

You can watch 2000s Baby on Regarding: and TVNZ on demand from Saturday 7 May.

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