Last week, while flicking through Netflix’s ever more burgeoning and dizzying selection of shows, I eventually settled on an Australian drama called Wanted. Synopsis looked decent: two women brought together as witnesses to a murder, now on the run (from surely very bad men). Again, decent. I expected very little, though Netflix’s algorithms suggested this was a 99% match. We’ll see, I thought. I’ve been pretty disappointed with femme-dramas lately, Jessica Jones Season 2 being the primary source of that disappointment (more on that later, there’s a full length rant brewing). Needless to say, my expectations were low.
10 minutes in and I was hooked. The characterization. Wow. First we meet Lola (or so we think), a sass-talking, gives-no-fucks middle aged woman who works at the Australian equivalent of a Walmart. Then there’s Chelsea, a mousey, striking young accountant with a pretty horrible boyfriend—a woman who may, or may not, have been involved in some embezzling at the firm where she works. Interesting characters, right from the start, and in very different ways.
Of course, credit where credit is due to the actors portraying these women, who have elevated intriguing characters into truly legendary on screen presences. And how refreshing it is to watch a show with women of different backgrounds and ages. Very rarely do we see an older woman in the driving seat (one of the reasons why Grace and Frankie is so fabulous), and Rebecca Gibney (Lola) has full control of the scenery and stays convincing with every good and bad decision she makes. Geraldine Hakewill (Chelsea) deserves special mention, too, for not fading into the background of Gibney’s tour-de-force and for developing her character beyond the odd couple archetype; into a fascinating gilded-cage woman wrestling with mental health issues. I think that’s one of the highlights of the show, and something that I’ve always tried to write into my own work: bad things are going to happen—they are often unavoidable—but the courage to push on is what makes these complex women heroes.
As the show progresses, and the catastrophes snowball into a conspiracy involving Aussie mobsters, thirty year old murders and crooked cops, these women never lose sight of their own worth, their conviction that they are doing the right thing, the just thing, even if their actions look criminal or suspicious to the cops on their trail who are not on the take. It’s a twelve episode adventure that takes us from Melbourne to Asia to New Zealand. A journey that shows us the gradual building of trust between strangers into allies, then into the best of friends and finally soul-sisters. The show discusses—always with subtlety, never with preachiness—the rigours of age, the failings of the legal system, and women’s continued struggles against image, society and power. Once more, I’m so reminded of Mouse and Morigan’s friendship/ sisterhood—how they met in captivity as these women did, even!
What began as a casual Netflix offering has become my standout show of the year. I don’t know what else could beat it, other than a season 3, which I’m happy to say has been announced. If you’re not watching this show, stop reading my babble and go, go!
All my love,