Mercado on TV: Diversity on screen – ground-breaking shows of 2021


Andrew Mercado’s final TV column of the year celebrates diversity in drama and news

Along with all the straight, able-bodied, white people on Australian TV, 2021 welcomed growing diversity on screen when it came to Indigenous culture, disability representation and queer programming. More like this, please:


During this year’s Bachelorette finale, the last two lovebirds were asked by an Indigenous friend of Brooke Blurton if either of them knew: “Whose land are you living on?” Neither did, but let’s hope more networks will follow the lead of the ABC in educating its viewers.

This year, the public broadcaster began using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Place Names across their TV and radio services. It was also great to see many of their shows having a renewed focus on Indigenous language and history, like in this year’s most beautiful new show, Back To Nature (ABC – pictured above).


Last weekend, ABC disability affairs reporter Nas Campanella revealed she was six months pregnant during her 7pm news report, so congratulations! ABC Breakfast reporter Charles Brice has talked about how hearing the vision-impaired reporter on Triple J was an inspiration to him, and now the wheelchair reporter is doing the same for others with his daily reports from Adelaide.

Drama is picking up on this too. Deaf actors, like Nathan Borg in Neighbours (10Peach), Malachi Kruse in the final episode of Fires (ABC), and James Caverly in Murders in the Building (Disney+), are making their presence felt. Dexter: New Blood (Paramount+), has Esther, (Paralympian Katie Sullivan) a police dispatcher who boot scoots with her artificial legs. And let’s not forget that ground-breaking sex scene with Jillian Mercado in The L Word: Generation Q (Stan).


ABC’s Nas Campanella


Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire (ABC) was the best documentary of the year. But despite a painstaking recreation of the death ride, and raw testimony from still-traumatised survivors, the take-home message for many was that former NSW Premier Neville Wran had been defamed.

The press, all of whom had reported similar clams about Neville Wran themselves, ignored that and turned this into another opportunity to bash the ABC. But what about those six children who were burnt to death without any justice since? Surely they should be the priority before someone whose nickname was “Nifty”.

Mercado on TV luna park

Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire


The awful years of AIDS loomed large in quality dramas like The Newsreader (ABC), It’s A Sin (Stan) and Pose (Binge), the latter of which had one of the glamorous TV weddings of all time. But nothing could top the incredible Veneno (iview), a Spanish drama I am going to re-watch again and again all summer.

Enjoy the holidays and let’s chat again in 2022.

Read more Mercado on TV columns here.

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