Mercado on TV: Australian Epic is a musical comedy that is nothing short of a triumph

Australian Epic

‘So good to see a new Aussie series being audacious and pulling off every crazy stunt’

On paper, Australian Epic (Wednesday on ABC) must have seemed like it could become one of the biggest TV disasters of all time. Luckily though, this musical about great moments in Australian history is from The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor. The end result is nothing short of a triumph.

Interspersing hilarious numbers into a historical documentary works exceedingly well. That’s because they happen organically during serious interviews. The first show covers Steven Bradbury winning gold at the Winter Olympics, while the second episode is a Hamilton-esque take on Princess Mary, with a fabulous ditty about her Tasmanian heritage.

While it might take some viewers a moment or two to adjust to the colour-blind casting, the brilliant supporting cast win you over, including Fiona Choi, Amy Lehpamer, Phoenix Jackson-Mendoza, Michelle Brasier, Nick Kong, and Sami Afunid. It’s so good to see a new Aussie series being audacious and pulling off every crazy stunt they attempt. 

Australian Epic also proves that TV can still come up with original concepts, although they are getting harder to find as free-to-air TV continues to cannibalise itself. Coming next year, a cross between Married At First Sight and Alone called Stranded On Honeymoon Island (Seven).

Thankfully, we still have great drama and the other must-see series right now is Fellow Travellers (Paramount+), a new political thriller with a gut-wrenching gay romance at its centre. Hawk (Matt Bomer) and Tim (Jonathan Bailey) meet in the 1950s while working at the State Department, thereby putting them in the centre of the McCarthy era, when closeted hypocrites were waging war against suspected communists and homosexuals.

Openly gay actors Matt Bomer and Jonathon Bailey are electrifying as the gay couple. Once upon a time, queer actors were ordered to hide their sexuality, but today they can bring authenticity to queer roles while continuing to play straight, something else they have plenty of life experience in.

Fellow Travelers

Australian actor Tim Draxl was outed in 2011 and has gone on to play gay characters in A Place To Call Home, Molly, The Newsreader, Summer Love, and In Our Blood. Right now he can be seen in his most eye-popping role yet as a daddy with disability issues in the Aussie anthology Erotic Stories (SBS On Demand).

Draxl still gets to play straight too, like a detective in Last King Of The Cross (Paramount+), or was he? Given there is going to be a second series where John Ibrahim moves into the gay nightclub scene, perhaps there will be a few more bent cops. And maybe some more Tim Draxl. Fingers crossed.


Read more Mercado on TV here.

Welcome to TV Gold: Mediaweek’s weekly TV podcast

Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Mercado on TV columnist Andrew Mercado and editor-in-chief James Manning.
We want your comments, feedback and questions – [email protected].

This week: Boiling Point, Australian Epic, Friend of the Family, Milli Vanilli, Night Bloomers

That was awkward! Bit of sensitivity this week when one host’s choice for Show of the Week is slammed by the other host. What could it be? Andrew and James power through five programs this week: Milli Vanilli (Paramount+, doco), Boiling Point (BBC First, series), A Friend of the Family (7plus, series), Night Bloomers (SBS On Demand, series) and Australian Epic (ABC and iview, series).
Tell us what you have been watching. Email: [email protected]

Listen online here, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Boiling Point

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