Mercado on TV: Female characters driving new HBO/Foxtel, Prime and Stan series

Mercado on TV

Rain Dogs (HBO on Foxtel/Binge) is going to be one of the most talked about TV series this year

More and more TV series today, such as Daisy Jones and The Six (Amazon Prime), Bad Behaviour (Stan), and Rain Dogs (HBO on Foxtel/Binge), are making their female character the plot drivers. It’s great to see, as is finally hearing more about the forgotten female pioneers of television.

Daisy Jones and the Six (Amazon Prime) is based on the novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Loosely based around the Fleetwood Mac journey and set in the 70s, this fantastic 10-part series comes with a soundtrack with original songs written by artists like Jackson Browne and Marcus Mumford.

Given how crucial the music is to this story, it’s amazing to see Riley Keough, daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and granddaughter of Elvis, playing the title role. The Six is a mostly male band until Daisy joins the mix, and this brings the show’s other female characters, like keyboardist Karen (Saki Waterhouse) and photographer Camila (Camila Morrone), into the sisterhood. 

EastEnders (Foxtel/Binge) has its own version of The Six who are female matriarchs. Kathy (Gillian Taylforth), Stacey (Lacey Turner), Suki (Balvinder Sopal), Denise (Diane Parish) and Sharon (Letitia Dean) just had a standalone episode for the show’s 38th anniversary, and it ended with a wicked cliffhanger. 

In a twist that is both a whodunnit and a whoisit, a flash forward to Christmas later this year showed all six women back at the Queen Vic, only this time Sharon was in a wedding dress and some man was lying dead on the floor. Er-oh!

Rain Dogs (HBO on Foxtel/Binge) is going to be one of the most talked about TV series this year. This HBO/BBC co-production is a dark comedy about poverty, sex work, alcoholism and sexual abuse, and it’s partly based on Cash Carraway’s autobiographical novel Skint Estate.

When they find themselves homeless, Costello (Daisy May Cooper) and nine-year-old daughter Iris (Fleur Tashjian) turn to funeral worker Gloria (Ronke Adekoluejo) and rich gay friend Selby (Jack Farthing) who is just out of jail. It’s a lot, and it makes the early episodes a bit frantic, but hang in there, this is one of the shows of the year. 

Bad Behaviour is another great Aussie commission from Stan. The outback boarding school drama is about bullying. While it’s uncomfortable viewing, it will resonate with its target audience, thanks to its cast of Yerin Ha, Jana McKinnon, and Markella Kavenagh. 

When Women Invented Television, written by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, is a new book about four female powerhouses, including Gertrude Berg, who invented the family sitcom, and Betty White who did live TV for five and a half hours a day, six days a week, without any writers! 

In Australia, no woman will ever top Kerrie-Anne’s record for doing the most live TV. And an upcoming biography of Carol Raye, by John Senczuk, will reveal more about how she became Australian TV’s first female executive. Let’s hope we hear more about some other female Aussie TV pioneers too.

Read more Mercado on TV columns here.


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