One of the disadvantages of streaming is that we are no longer all watching the same shows together. Most dramas aren’t watched weekly any more because of all the viewers bingeing them at their leisure. But the desire to discuss and dissect them, à la around the watercooler, remains. This leads to friends and colleagues saying, “you have to watch this” followed by a lengthy breakdown about why that show is required viewing.
Now the problem with this is that there are too many amazing shows and none of us, not even the most TV obsessed, can keep up. So let’s not be so demanding of each other and lighten the mood with suggestions rather than demands. And remember, the less you know about a show, the more reward a surprise can be.
Recently I watched the first episode of Patrick Melrose, which is now screening on BBC First. All I knew was that it starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugo Weaving, and that there was talk the Aussie actor might get his first Emmy nomination. That didn’t eventuate, but given this is a tour de force for Cumberbatch, I would put money on him taking home another statuette (having already won an Emmy for Sherlock in 2014).
Based on a series of bestselling British novels, I don’t want to give away too much of the plot except to suggest that if you liked Trainspotting or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then this could be a show for you. So far for me, this is the best international drama of 2018 and right up there with The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
Closer to home, SBS’s newest Aussie series, Dead Lucky, got nearly twice the ratings of their last one, Safe Harbour. SBS’s local dramas are almost always critically acclaimed and based around topical political issues like illegal boat people (Safe Harbour), Sudanese immigrants (Sunshine) or gay hate crime (Deep Water).
Dead Lucky, however, is more a straight-up crime thriller without an obvious red button issue and, given its ratings, the audience seemed more willing to give it a go. That didn’t stop SBS, however, from fulfilling its charter and making sure the cast was as diverse as possible. Alongside Rachel Griffiths, Justine Clarke and Matt Nable, there are exciting new Aussie actors like Chinese born Yoson An (now the lead in Disney’s live action remake of Mulan) and Mojean Aria, the first ever multicultural actor to win the Heath Ledger scholarship.
Interestingly, Dead Lucky is set against a background of international students, and so too is the latest series of Jack Irish. As Rachel Griffiths told the Today show this week, it just takes a little more work to look past the usual faces and thanks to SBS and the ABC, this is happening more and more. So put Dead Lucky and Jack Irish onto the same “suggestion” list as Patrick Melrose, but don’t feel bad if you’re too busy to watch now. After all, the MasterChef grand final leads into Australian Survivor and The Bachelor, and The Block is just around the corner too. There’s room for every taste but everyone needs to do it at their own pace.