By Gen Terblanche12 April 2023
The best Australian and New Zealand shows and movies to stream
Southern hemisphere solidarity! We don’t just share an obsession with rugby and cricket: our Santas sweat their beards off at Christmas and our Easter bunnies hop about in winter boots. We’re all upside down and out of step together, even if our toilets don’t actually flush anti-clockwise (another dream Mythbusted, alas). So let your southern stars align as you take in these series and movies from Australia and New Zealand on Showmax…
Lauren the lawyer (Katherine Parkinson) has her life working like clockwork in this romantic comedy series. With two kids and a divorce under her belt, she has no time for the slog of dating, so she decides to add a sex life to her busy schedule, officially. But sometimes apps can be traps and between her assistant Alex (Rowan Witt) fumbling the “contacts” on her spreadsheet, kids seeing messages from mommy’s hookups on her phone, messages winding up with the wrong guys, and catastrophic calendar clashes, Lauren’s one night stands force her into the witness stand, giving awkward explanations left and right. It does make us wonder how Samantha from Sex and the City kept her little black book organised.
Love Island Australia S1-4
With Love Island South Africa it sometimes felt mean to laugh because everyone was kind of relatable. Love Island UK and Love Island USA have the opposite issue as their casts can feel as if they were born to be on reality TV. Love Island Australia hits that sweet spot where contestants seem to lack self awareness, landing them right in the silly goose zone. Showmax has three seasons of this dating reality series crammed with some of the hottest people on TV ever to make us go “eww, noaa” (in an Australian accent).
The boys’ club vibe that some guys seem to develop each season will be all too relatable to anyone who’s been sidelined at a braai. And there’s so much glee in hearing some hot idiot say, in all sincerity, “I’ve learned so much from Instagram quotes”. With a fourth season already underway, it’s time to get back up to strength with a rewatch of your favourite moments, while you sigh over a crush or two, like former Zimbabwean rugby player Taku Chimwaza, who has the best confessionals in Season 3.
Season 4 is first and exclusive to Showmax!
Over three seasons (including a five-year time-jump in Season 3) we explore what happens when brilliant, ambitious Sydney schoolgirl Oly (Nathalie Morris) unwittingly falls pregnant while cheating on her nice boyfriend Lochie (Peter Thurnwald) with stoner athlete Santiago ‘Santi’ Hernández (Carlos Sanson Jnr). After Oly pulls an “I didn’t know I was pregnant” moment at school, the (graphic) shock of labour and childbirth sends both her and Santi’s parents into a tailspin.
This smart and accessible Australian comedy-drama contrasts how Santi’s Chilean immigrant family sees the birth, with how her own family reacts to Oly and Santi’s slip-up. Complicating matters, Oly’s mom, Angie (Claudia Carvan), has been flirting with Santi’s dad, Matias (Ricardo Scheihing Vásquez), while plotting a divorce. The series gets refreshingly gritty, honest, and even cackle-out-loud funny about teen mom life after Oly rocks up back at school with her baby strapped to her, and she and Santi team up in the face of the ensuing parental meltdowns.
Ride Like A Girl
Horse girls, this one’s for you! Aussie actress Rachel Griffiths hits it out of the park as she directs this biopic based on the life of Michelle Payne (Teresa Palmer), who became the first female jockey to win Australia’s Melbourne Cup in 2015 … at 1000-to-1 odds. Michelle tackled incredible odds in life, too, including the death of her mother, her sister’s death in a riding accident, her own recovery from a serious riding accident, and the fact that she was one of 10 children in her family.
But her most infuriating challenge came from within the sport, and the film does a fantastic job of exposing the steeplechase of sexism that Michelle was navigating, and the impact it had on her mental health, while she was keeping her eye on the winning post.
Gold: from 13 April 2023
Australia’s merciless Outback forms the backdrop for this twisty dystopian movie about greed and suspicion. Virgil (Zac Efron at his filthiest) pays Keith (Anthony Hayes) to transport him across the desert to a place called The Compound. But plans change along the way when they stumble across a massive gold nugget.
After a brief tussle, Keith leaves Virgil with five days’ worth of supplies, while he goes to get the equipment to extract the nugget. Alone in the desert, Virgil spirals into paranoia, dehydration and desperation while he wards off wild dogs and stray passers by, eventually, leading to murder. Meanwhile Keith seems to be playing a waiting game, leaving Virgil at the mercy of the elements until he can step in and collect what’s his.
Two years after an alien invasion, a human resistance movement based in Sydney, Australia, sets off to find out the truth about an upcoming alien operation codenamed Rainfall. This is a throwback to sci-fi action films of the 1980s and 1990s, and it’s filled with big heroic speeches, scrappy, muscle-bound resistance soldiers who’re armed to the teeth like action toys, space battles, and technologically advanced alien overlords.
Intriguingly, not all the aliens are invested in world domination, as a handful have joined the human resistance. There are also fun scenes here and there that make great use of the Australian landscape, like when we see strange alien creatures galloping across it. And there’s a little comic relief from scientist Bud Miller (Ken Jeong) and his alien companion, Steve (voiced by Jason Isaacs). If you ordered extra cheese, your movie night pizza is here. Dig in.
H is for Happiness
This is the ultimate feel-good family friendly film, packed with the magic you get from seeing the world through new eyes. Based on Australian young adult novel My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg, it focuses on eternally optimistic 12-year-old Candice Phee (Daisy Axon) and her efforts to fix the relationship between her parents, Jim (Richard Roxburgh) and Claire (Emma Booth), after she becomes inspired by the “weird” new kid at school, Douglas Benson (Wesley Patten).
Douglas claims that he’s from another dimension, and Candice might not believe that he can get back “home” by jumping out of trees, but she’s backing him to the teeth and cheering him on anyway.
If you loved Rose Matafeo’s work on game show series Taskmaster, come see her in action in this romantic comedy movie about a couple of adventurers whose life hits a baby bump. Rose’s chumminess and charm comes across as she plays Zoe, a travel-obsessed New Zealander who wants to have a baby one day, but doesn’t want the world seeing her as a mother first and a person second.
Her partner, Tim (Matthew Lewis – aka Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies), seems much more keen on the prospect of being a dad, and the film explores why that might be the case as this genuinely delightful and well-matched couple count down to the birth of their child. If you’ve ever gone “ew” at a gender reveal party, this is one to watch.
The Cul de Sac
New Zealand’s three-season youth sci-fi drama imagines what would happen if grownups mysteriously all vanished and all technology stopped working. As the kids carry on, every 24 hours a massive reality-wave sweeps around the world and anyone caught out in it vanishes. The wave also deposits “Creepers”, pasty white human-shaped monsters who come out at night and eat people.
For those left behind, it’s a struggle to get food on the table, keep the lights on, and survive the night as fuels run out and the trash bags pile up. The New Zealand writers’ down-to-earth sensibilities make the sci-fi aspects of the story feel even more real, and having a cast of mainly kids works around a lot of the issues we normally have with the shortsighted decisions people make in apocalyptic series, keeping the characters sympathetic.
Flight of the Conchords
Seriously silly New Zealand musical comedy sketch duo Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie play fictional versions of themselves as shepherds from New Zealand struggling to break into America’s folk/indie/novelty song scene with help from their hopelessly out of his depth manager, Murray (Rhys Darby) – New Zealand’s eager-to-please Deputy Cultural Attaché in the US.
Jemaine and Brett have to walk that tightrope of believing in their own greatness, while still being well mannered, down to earth New Zealanders who’d rather eat their own foot than toot their own horn. And through (absurdly catchy) songs Jemaine and Brett tackle topics from dating perils to rapping wildlife, robot uprisings, penny pinching broke bro life, and the downward financial spiral that buying a new teacup can lead to. Also look out for the Flight of the Conchords Live in London doccie.
Explore these and more on Showmax now.