Nine Great Australian TV Shows You Can Stream Right Now
There's some great stuff you might have missed while binging HBO.
Australia’s deeply embedded cultural cringe can often mean we’re too busy bingeing HBO shows to see the Aussie TV that’s really worth watching. Luckily, the advent of streaming means these shows are no longer gone forever once they’re off the box. This weekend, for a change of pace, why not delve into some Aussie comedy or drama? We’ve made you a list of some of the best Australian TV shows, old and new, available to stream right now.
Rosehaven (ABC iView)
If you’re anything like me, you adore Celia Pacquola and will watch her in absolutely anything. Lucky for us, Tasmanian-set Rosehaven, the ABC’s gentle new comedy starring Pacquola and Luke McGregor (who also wrote and created the series together), is probably the most charming thing you can watch on the internet right now. Pacquola and McGregor play two best friends, Daniel and Emma — each of whom approach the world very differently — who together form an unbeatable team for coping with life’s niggling disappointments.
Shrewd and sharp, with a luscious geniality, Rosehaven is perfect Gen-Y fodder, skewering arrested development while simultaneously exuding a soothing understanding of that egregious condition: “kidult”. The first five episodes are available to stream right now on iView, and I can’t think of a better balm for your soul after these terrible few weeks.
Please Like Me (ABC iView)
Please Like Me is back! After a superb third season, which ended with one of the best 25 minutes of television I’ve ever watched, Josh Thomas, Tom Ward, Hannah Gadsby and co. have arrived back on our screens for an eagerly anticipated fourth season. Only one episode has been released so far, but it’s already clear the series is keeping up that incredibly high standard from season three.
Please Like Me fails to appeal to a lot of people. It’s incredibly cringeworthy, mostly due to its creator and star, Thomas, who is about the most divisive comedian on the Australian circuit (many people, myself included, find his stand-up excruciating). Thomas’s niche appeal has turned off a swathe of viewers who, I suspect, would enjoy the series immensely. (It helps that the show, helmed by Thomas and director Matthew Saville, knows just how to wield Thomas’s unique annoyingness to their best advantage).
This is a mistake, because Please Like Me is perhaps the boldest and most penetrating comedy Australia has produced in years (perhaps going as far back as the brilliant, and much-missed, Kath and Kim). Hurry and catch up on what you’ve missed so you can muck into this impressive new season.
Go Back To Where You Came From (SBS OnDemand)
A motley collection of episodes from SBS’s brilliant documentary Go Back to Where You Came From are available to stream on their streaming platform, SBS OnDemand. It’s a good thing too: though the series’ extraordinarily high ratings made it the station’s most-watched program in 2011, it remains blisteringly relevant as the asylum seeker debate rages on in Australia.
The series follows groups of Australians, each individual with a different view on asylum seekers (a former refugee, for example, or a “Stop The Boats” Facebook campaigner, as they take the journey refugees take to reach Australia, but in reverse. No matter what your opinion is on asylum seeker policy, Go Back to Where You Came From is essential viewing.
Channel Ten’s long-running dramedy, Offspring, starring the inimitable Asher Keddie and a host of excellent Australian actors, has found its way to Netflix at last. Catch up on five seasons of Proudman family madness, Nina romance and, of course, the comedy stylings of Lachie Hulme who, as Martin Clegg, is the show’s secret MVP.
The true joy of Offspring is how it’s light and frivolous (perfect for mid-week viewing), while also inexorably smart and gut-wrenching. The brilliant playwright and author Debra Oswald, along with John Edwards and Imogen Banks, produced five years of remarkable, very special television, which many Australians missed due to our cultural cringe regarding homegrown TV dramas (especially ones that premiere on commercial networks). Now is your chance to fall in love with the Proudmans. You can thank me later.
ABC has just announced that their genre-series success Glitch, an eerie sci-fi/body horror drama, will return in 2017 for a second season. This makes it the perfect time to catch up on the series’ wonderful first six episodes, all of which are available to stream on Netflix. The series follows six residents of Yoorana, “arse-end of the arse-end of the earth”, who have risen from the dead and been dumped in their present-day hometown only to discover that life has moved on without them. Investigating the strange phenomenon is Sergeant James Hayes (the wonderful Patrick Brammall in his most nuanced performance yet), himself in a bit of a pickle as one of the risen residents is his wife Kate (Emma Booth), who died of cancer two years earlier.
The series is anchored by incredibly strong performances from its mostly young cast, including the luminous Aaron McGrath (Ready For It, Jasper Jones), and Sean Keenan, who was last seen as tragic Gary in the sorely missed Puberty Blues. The show has shades of French series Les Revenants, but Glitch is its own strange, compelling beast — inextricable from the Australian gothic tradition but with a gripping contemporary sensibility. The series was on the ABC and iView for a depressingly short amount of time back in 2015, so now’s the time to find out exactly what you’ve missed out on.
Rake (Netflix and Stan)
You’ve almost definitely heard of Rake, the raucous, razor-sharp dramedy starring Richard Roxburgh (name a hunkier Aussie silver fox, I’ll wait). The series centres on Clever Greene (Roxburgh) as a hopeless, poorly behaved but unarguably brilliant criminal lawyer who gets himself into all kinds of silly scrapes. Impeccably written and acted by its stalwart cast, the series has a bank of seasons that you can dip into on Netflix or Stan. Perfect for some nihilistic chuckles in the vein of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Rake is that naughty fun you need for a cheeky ol’ weekend binge.
A Moody Christmas (Netflix and Stan)
A Moody Christmas, the series which tracks six Christmases with the fictional and feckless Moody family, remains one of the most surprising and ingenious comedies to premiere on Australian television. Each episode begins with the return of prodigal son Dan to the Moody abode from London, where he works as a scummy paparazzo. Then begins the outrageous Christmas festivities, with everything from snake sandwiches, to fork stabbings and an outdoor pool that seems destined never to be built.
The series features the versatile Patrick Brammall as troublemaker Sean, and his beautiful Jane Harber as Zara — the object of Dan’s affection. The series continued with The Moodys, which focused on the family’s attendance at various other special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, and a hilarious expedition to the park on Australia Day), but A Moody Christmas is still the original and the best, with its extraordinarily astute observations on the Aussie family unit. Watch it now on Netflix or Stan.
Black Comedy (Stan)
Black Comedy, created by Blackfellas and starring Aaron Fa’aoso, Nakkiah Lui and Stephen Oliver, is the first Indigenous sketch show to premiere on Australian TV since 1973. Incisive, bold and relentlessly silly, the first season featured sketches that skewered Australia’s hideous problem with race while paying homage to contemporary Aboriginal life: the Tiddas, Townsville’s flamboyant gays trapped in a cyclical love-hate relationship; the Black Force officers, who book Indigenous residents for eating kale instead of KFC, or undercooking their meat at a barbecue; and “Indigenous GPS” (one of my favourite sketches).
The show is proudly and brilliantly black; the cast use Aboriginal Australian dialect frequently and the jokes are a warm hand to other Indigenous viewers who no doubt feel excluded from most Australian TV content. But it’s also a fantastic portal of understanding for white viewers; through Black Comedy we’re able to gain a little insight into Aboriginal culture while laughing our heads off. Good deal. The first series is streaming on Stan now.
Girt By Fear (YouTube)
For something a little different, why not give an Aussie web series a try? Girt By Fear is a six-part horror-comedy about a Halloween party (called, if you can believe it, “Terror Australis”) that goes terribly wrong when evil spirits invade the partygoers via some dodgy wi-fi.
With short, sharp episodes, a bit of a fright and plenty of laughs, the series is a kind of grown-up Round The Twist, which plays on the fears that plague us Gen Y-ers. (Trust me, restricted access to wi-fi is something that terrifies each one of my deeply millennial housemates.) It’s well-made, with a killer electro-horror soundtrack, and it has a strange kind of sweetness beneath the gore and the laughs. This one’s real treat for your next heart-pumping, late-night binge session, and it’s all available for free on YouTube.
Matilda Dixon-Smith is a freelance writer, editor and theatre-maker, and a card-carrying feminist. She also tweets intermittently and with very little skill from @mdixonsmith.