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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Erin Harrington, Senior Lecturer in English and Cultural Studies, University of Canterbury

The Conversation

It seems to be a time of old favourites.

This month our experts have recommended two new seasons – the second season of Alone Australia (although oddly enough with that name, it takes place in Aotearoa New Zealand) and the third season of Bluey – a Patricia Highsmith adaptation, and, following the hot new trend, an adaptation of a video game. For a sadder hit of nostalgia, Edith Jennifer Hill has watched Quiet on Set, which casts a new light on old Nickelodeon favourites.

Rounding out the bunch is a new drama After the Party. Erin Harrington recommended it back in December, but only our New Zealand readers could watch it then. It’s finally made its way across to Australia, and Erin still wholeheartedly recommends it.

As the weather drops, grab a blanket and sit down with one of these shows.

After the Party

iView and TVNZ+

After the Party is a morally complex psychological drama about accusations, abuse and accountability that’s quickly become appointment viewing.

Robyn Malcolm is incendiary as Penny, a prickly high school biology teacher who opens the series by giving the boys in her class a frank lecture about the porn she’s finding on their phones. Shots fired.

Five years ago, at a boozy party, she publicly accused her husband Phil (Peter Mullan) – rightly? wrongly? – of a sex crime against a friend of their teenage daughter. This torpedoed their lives and lost Phil his teaching job, but also exposed the extent to which charismatic men will be given the benefit of the doubt, while women who persistently transgress behavioural norms will instead be punished.

Now Phil is back in town, as charming as ever, sliding back into his roles as teacher and father. Penny’s not letting it go as she pedals furiously around windy, moody Wellington, trying to get anyone to listen to her, no matter the cost. Tense flashbacks and unsettling shifting perspectives slowly flesh out the show’s queasy core, offering a nuanced account of trauma, denial and memory.

This exceptional show, now streaming in Australia, has been developed in conjunction with the NZ Film Commission with a strong local voice but international distribution in mind. Global viewers with a love of difficult women have something to seriously look forward to.

– Erin Harrington

Alone Australia season two

SBS On Demand and TVNZ+

The hit series Alone captivated the world a few years ago, showcasing survival experts venturing into the wilderness to find food and shelter with limited tools and cameras to self-document. The last person standing wins a significant cash prize after enduring challenging conditions and typically losing around a third of their body weight.

When SBS introduced Alone Australia last year, I was sceptical. How would it compare to international versions? However, season one surpassed my expectations. Set in the temperate rainforests of Tasmania (lutruwita), bushcraft educator Gina Chick emerged as the winner, making history as one of the few women to succeed (Woniya Thibeault won Alone: Frozen in the Arctic in 2022).

Season two of Alone Australia is streaming and has started strong in the challenging climate of Te Waipounamu, South Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Contestants now battle the abundance of sandflies and hunt feral red deer with bows and arrows.

Although I consider myself an outdoorsy person, I don’t think I could handle the torment required by this show for more than a few days. I will continue to wish the survivalists best of luck as I watch from the comfort of my couch.

– Phoebe Hart

Read more:
What Alone Australia tells us about fear, and why we need it



When we meet Tom Ripley (Andrew Scott), he is a luckless grifter living off low level cons. He has a stroke of luck when wealthy shipbuilder Herbert Greenleaf (Kenneth Lonergan) sends him to Italy to bring his son Dickie (Johnny Flynn) home to America. However, once Tom arrives, he becomes obsessed with Dickie and his lifestyle. Tom kills Dickie and steals his identity.

And this is only the first of Tom’s many crimes.

As an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 crime novel The Talented Mr Ripley and coming after two previous cinematic adaptations – René Clément’s Plein Soleil (1960) and Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) – Ripley stands on the shoulders of giants, but also has big shoes to fill.

Some fans want it to be more like Minghella’s sumptuously sexy film: they must sit patiently through the first two episodes. Ripley is less interested in homoerotic desire than it is in crime (although there is plenty of queerness). However, once episode three starts, the series’ momentum really gets underway. Reasons to watch include wonderful twists and turns, gorgeous black and white cinematography, ascetic sound design, darkly comic corpse play, and Scott’s reptilian performance in the title role.

– Joy McEntee

Read more:
Critics can’t decide if Andrew Scott’s Ripley is mesmerising or charmless – just as Patricia Highsmith wrote him

Bluey season three

iView and TVNZ+

New and existing fans have lots to love with the three recent Bluey episodes. A collection of little specials/mini stories, Ghostbasket, The Sign and Surprise! are a delight.

A mini-mystery flows through episodes: will Bluey and her family sell up and move away from their lovely Queenslander home (and lovely Queensland generally)? Along the way there is a wedding, a ghost(ish) presence and the return of lots of favourite characters including The Grannies (think Kath and Kim if they were in their 80s and played by animated puppies).

It’s also fun to play “whose voice is that?” with a huge cast of guests, including Claudia O’Doherty, Patrick Brammall, Myf Warhurst, Sam Simmons, Rose Byrne, Joel Edgerton, Deborah Mailman, Brendan Williams and Rove McManus.

As well as lovely stories, the soundtrack again doesn’t disappoint, with special mention to Megan Washington, a voice actor and writer/performer of Lazarus Drug, a song re-recorded and repurposed in The Sign. The song plays almost in full, bringing the story to a climax and tugging hard on heartstrings.

You don’t have to be a kid, or have one close, to love Bluey. It’s nuanced storytelling that is fun, funny and relatable – well worth the repeat viewings it inevitably receives.

– Liz Giuffre

Read more:
Something borrowed, something Bluey: why we love a TV wedding



Adapted from the wildly popular post-apocalypse game franchise, Fallout is a wild ride. Rather than adapting the storyline from one of the games, the series creates new characters within the existing story world.

Following the nuclear holocaust, many wealthy Americans have sought refuge in self-sustaining vaults, hiding themselves away from the wasteland above; 200 years later, and Lucy (Ella Purnell) from Vault 33, is forced to venture to the wasteland to track down her kidnapped father, Hank (Kyle Mclachlan). The backstory to the Fallout world and truth to the vaults is also explored through characters The Ghoul (Walton Goggins) and Lucy’s brother, Norm (Moisés Arias).

The series captures the mix of gore and humour fans would be expecting. The Cold War lives of the vault-dwellers are presented with a satirical humour. Above ground, the inhabitants of the hostile world cope with their lot through humour that is sometimes surreal and other times dry wit.

Dale Dickey is a particular standout as a cranky shopkeeper in the wasteland, Ma June. “I thought all you dipshits were dead!” she laughs at Lucy upon hearing she is from the vaults.

The show’s violence is also visceral. Horrifying creatures, mutated as a result of the world’s radiation are the stuff of nightmares. Matt Berry voices an organ-harvesting robot that somehow exudes pathos, a tribute to how the show manages to balance gore and humour.

Adaptations of video games haven’t always been successful. Shows, such as Fallout and Last of Us, prove they can be sources for fantastic television.

Stuart Richards

Read more:
Fallout: an expertly crafted TV adaptation that manages to incorporate some of the best elements of gameplay

Quiet on Set

Binge (Australia) and ThreeNow (New Zealand)

The compelling docu-series Quiet on Set highlights the disturbing world of the child-entertainment industry, focusing on children’s television channel Nickelodeon.

The five-part series highlights the abuse many child actors faced while working for the network. The child stars on these shows – now adults in their 30s – share their experiences working on the Nickelodeon sets.

The series spotlights three convicted child-predators who worked for the network: Brian Peck, Jason Handy and Ezel Channel. Peck, convicted of sexually abusing Drake Bell, is at the centre of much of the series. The series explores how men like Peck are put in positions of power over children in the industry who were in their care, or under their supervision.

The docu-series comes at an opportune time when many child stars from the 2000s and 2010s have shared their stories of abuse. Famously, Jennette McCurdy (also a Nickelodeon star) recently released her memoir, I’m Glad My Mum Died, where she shares the details of her exploitation as a child-star. Others like Alyson Stoner from the Disney Channel, and Mara Wilson (famous for her role as Matilda) have spoken out about harsh working conditions, and the sexualisation and exploitation they experienced as young actors.

Quiet On Set’s combination of former child-star interviews, parent interviews and reflections from show writers creates a rounded series that exposes those who exploited children, and makes us seriously consider how we should be protecting working children.

Edith Jennifer Hill

Read more:
Quiet on Set highlights how we don’t keep child stars safe – in Hollywood or online

The Conversation

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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