Mercado on TV: One of the best dramas of 2024, Ripley, plus The Sympathizer and Baby Reindeer


It’s a crazy ride this week: The Sympathizer is a wild collaboration, and Baby Reindeer is demented… watch them immediately.

Three unusual TV series to talk about this week, with a stunning new version of Ripley (Netflix), a wild new HBO series The Sympathizer (Foxtel/Binge), and the crazy new stalker series everyone will be talking about, Baby Reindeer (also on Netflix).

Ripley is a new take on The Talented Mr Ripley which was a novel published in 1955. This version imagines what it would have looked like had it been filmed back then, and the result is eight hypnotic episodes with gorgeous black-and-white cinematography.

This is one of the best dramas of the year

According to some reports, the big complaint about Ripley is that it wasn’t filmed in colour. Shoot me now. By not looking like every other show on TV, Ripley stands out as one of the best dramas of the year. 

In the 1999 movie, starring Matt Damon and Jude Law, filmmakers added in a vaguely homoerotic element because Ripley had to be punished in some way. Author Patricia Highsmith said Ripley wasn’t gay, but she was a secret lesbian so there are many layers to it all.

Dakota Fanning in Ripley
Top: Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley

Andrew Scott says his Ripley is more “other” than gay, so that leaves other characters to be re-considered. So along with Dakota Fanning, John Malkovich and Johnny Flynn, non-binary singer and actor Eliot Sumner (the son of Sting) plays a more gender-fluid version of Freddie. Superb.

An insane collaboration

The Sympathizer (Foxtel/Binge) is an insane collaboration between South Korean hitmaker Park Chan-wook and Canadian cult filmmaker Don McKellar. This black comedy begins with the dying days of the Vietnam War, and the escape from Saigon is a nail-biter.

It is a wild ride for Aussie actor Hoa Xuande who’s had supporting roles in Hungry Ghosts (SBS) and Last King Of The Cross (Paramount+). Now he has the lead role and it’s intense, with some great romantic interludes with Sandra Oh.

The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer also stars recent Academy Award winner Robert Downey Jr. in another attention-grabbing performance, or should that be performances: he plays several different roles, as well as being an executive producer. 

Demented, so watch it immediately

Baby Reindeer quietly dropped on Netflix but word of mouth is already spreading about how crazy it is. Based on something that happened to him, creator and star Richard Gadd pulls no punches in this stalker drama.

Martha (Jessica Gunning) sees Donny (Richard Gadd) working in a bar and he quickly realises there is something terribly wrong with her. But he’s got his own issues, so he ignores the red flags. Meanwhile, he leads a double life with a trans girlfriend called Teri (Nava May). It’s demented, watch it immediately.

Baby Reindeer


TV Gold: New episode of 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: The Sympathizer, Heartbreak High (S2), Franklin


Angus Sampson in Heartbreak High

This week’s TV goes from suburban Sydney to Saigon and Paris. Stars in the series include Robert Downey Jr, Sandra Oh, Angus Sampson and Michael Douglas.

The Sympathizer (Binge/Foxtel, series) tells the story of a half-French, half-Vietnamese spy during the final days of the Vietnam War.

The second series of Heartbreak High (Netflix) starts with a school fire at the end of term. But it’s then back to the start of the school year.

Benjamin Franklin and his diplomatic efforts are the subject of Franklin (AppleTV+, series). Michael Douglas is the lead and the series details the years one of America’s founding fathers spent in France.

Listen online here, or on your favourite podcast platform.

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