Mercado on TV: Year in review – Best Aussie drama of 2022

ACMA - aussie drama

From the excellence of Mystery Road: Origin and Heartbreak High to series that were woeful and dreary

When it comes to great Aussie drama in 2022, how can you go past the always brilliant Mystery Road (ABC)? Going back in time for “Origin” rebooted this franchise and the casting of Mark Coles-Smith as a young Detective Jay was perfection.

Mystery Road

Mystery Road: Origin is an obvious standout, but the surprise packages were two Aussie high school dramas. Heartbreak High (Netflix) was like a shot of adrenaline as it surpassed the original series to become its own wild beast. More Than This (Paramount+) was also impressive, thanks to its teen co-creators Luka Gracie and Olivia Feeble.

Barons (ABC) started off well, but the surf drama lost steam as the story spread out around the world. Set to film in Indonesia and the US, but stranded at Sydney’s northern beaches because of COVID, the “international” locations never looked authentic. What a shame.

Significant Others (ABC) was great because its fractured family story was instantly recognisable. It also helped that it wasn’t another small-town murder mystery like the woeful Troppo (ABC) and the dreary Savage River (ABC).

Underbelly: Vanishing Act (Nine) managed to have its cake and eat it too. It invented a ridiculous scenario with a mysterious villain (Colin Friels), while also admitting it was ridiculous because Melissa Caddick (Kate Atkinson) killed herself. Or did she?

Ausie drama

The Twelve (Foxtel/Binge) was a classy affair about a jury, and that’s more than you can say about After the Verdict (Nine) which was just silly. Bump (Stan) continued to be heaps of fun, while Bali (Stan) was solid but perfunctory.

True Colours (NITV) stood out thanks its depiction of a First Nations world rarely seen on film. SBS really punched above its weight this year, with blacker than black comedy A Beginner’s Guide To Grief, suburban psychology comedy I’m Fine You’re Fine, and sexy cerebral palsy comedy Latecomers.

Warren H Williams and Rarriwuy Hick in True Colours

Home and Away (Seven) continued to be predictable and risk-averse, while Neighbours (10) sped through twice as many stories while moving with the times. Its emotional finale was the best in Aussie TV history, and now Neighbours will return for a 39th season in 2023! Let’s hope both shows can last as long as UK soap Emmerdale (UKTV) which celebrates its 50th anniversary (Episode 9494) on December 6.

Next Week: The Best of International and the Worst Shows of 2023

Read more Mercado on TV columns here.


Mercado & Manning weekly TV podcast: Year in Review double episodes

Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Andrew Mercado and James Manning. There are two new episodes now available with your complete guide to Summer TV viewing. We list over 40 great 2022 dramas series plus streaming platforms movies and the famous Mercado Worst of the Year lists.

There is also a special BONUS episode where Andrew and James talk with Heartbreak High producer Carly Heaton.

Listen online here, on the LiSTNR app or on your favourite podcast platform.

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