Over the past year of dipping in and out of various states of lockdown, one of the constants has been really good television. While many of us relied on old faithful sitcoms and prestige drama to get us through the long nights indoors, lately there has been a wave of fresh new TV talent. The diversity of the creative teams driving the shows and the audacity of the stories presented are what set this crop apart, not to mention a stronger sense of female relationships in all their complexity – sisters, bandmates, mentors, housemates, lovers – than we’ve ever seen before.
Starstruck landed on ABC iView in June, and it is as charmingly neurotic and hopelessly romantic as fans of co-writer and star Rose Matafeo have come to expect. Matafeo hails from New Zealand with a Samoan, Scottish and Croatian heritage, and brings her unique mix of millennial self-doubt and charisma to the role of Jessie, a resident of East London who accidentally becomes a rom-com cliché after a one-night stand with a real-life movie star. As a primer check out her award-winning comedy special Horndog (ABC iView).
Creamerie is set in the not-so-distant future, after a mysterious virus wipes out 99% of the world’s male population. Eight years on, in a quiet countryside town in New Zealand, we join three friends as they navigate the female led society that isn’t as idyllic as the new leaders would have them believe. A darkly funny, never predictable sci-fi romp written and led by a Chinese Kiwi team of creatives, Creamerie is a challenging and rewarding gem of a show. Watch it on SBS on Demand
We Are Lady Parts
Another diverse ensemble anchors We Are Lady Parts, a joyful, hilarious show that follows the all-female, Muslim punk band of the same name smashing stereotypes and breaking hearts in East London. Written and directed by Nida Manzoor, we follow the endearingly neurotic Amina as she navigates new friendships and potential music stardom, which may or may not be compatible with her steadfast pursuit of the marriage and career pathway she long expected to follow. Watch it on Stan
This Way Up
The hilarious and accomplished Irish comedian Aisling Bea writes and stars in This Way Up (Hulu) a warm-hearted series about Aine, a young woman who is figuring her life out in the wake of a nervous breakdown. Catastrophe’s Sharon Horgan leads a stellar supporting cast as Bea’s sister, offering a realistic and nuanced take on how fraught and loving adult relationships between siblings can be. Special mention must also go to the Jane Eyre-esque storyline featuring Tobias Menzies (Outlander, The Crown) as a gruff widower with a heart of gold whose recently arrived French son Aine tutors. The second season arrives on our screens in mid-July on Stan.
Last but not least is the second season of Feel Good, co-written by and starring comedian Mae Martin. We recommended the first season in our list of queer shows to watch at the start of last year’s lockdown. The show continues to be hilarious and touching, with the second season delving deeper into Martin’s experiences with addiction borne from working in the comedy industry from a young age; unpacking how unresolved trauma can be incredibly impactful on present relationships. It also has one of the best explorations of gender identity on a show in recent memory. Watch it on Netflix
– Tiana Stefanic