Rachel Griffiths. Picture: Richard Dobson
Rachel Griffiths. Picture: Richard Dobson

TV shows to get excited about

There are many constants in life, most of them involve depressing stuff like death and taxes or battling the Westfield carpark.

But there are also amazing joyful constants - like exciting new TV shows to challenge what you think and feel.

The ABC has revealed its slate of new programs for 2019 and there are some absolute rippers among them.

The public broadcaster has commissioned almost 30 new programs including a political drama starring Rachel Griffiths and Deborah Mailman, an 80s-set comedy about a woman returning to Newcastle after her life fell apart in London and documentaries on INXS and Midnight Oil.


Rachel Griffiths will be starring in a new ABC drama. Picture: Richard Dobson
Rachel Griffiths will be starring in a new ABC drama. Picture: Richard Dobson

Returning shows include favourites Mad as Hell, Utopia, Rosehaven, Mystery Road, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, You Can't Ask That, Poldark, Victoria, Q&A, Gruen, Julia Zemiro's Home Delivery, Anh's Brush with Fame, Hard Quiz and more.

Here are some of the highlights of the new shows we're excited about coming to ABC in 2019:

Black B*tch: A six-part drama series starring Rachel Griffiths as the cunning Prime Minister of Australia, Rachel Anderson, and Deborah Mailman as a charismatic indigenous up-and-coming politician, Alex Irving. Rachel wants to use Alex to further her own agenda but Alex is wise to her antics and her revenge may break the whole system.

Frayed: Simone (Sarah Kendall) thinks her glamorous London life is perfect and the envy of all. Then her husband has a fatal heart attack while with a prostitute. Left with nothing, she returns home to Australia with her two kids, where her past isn't anything like what she told everyone. Set in 1988, this comedy also stars Kerry Armstrong and Ben Mingray.

The Cry: Based on the novel by Helen FitzGerald and written by Jacqueline Perske, the four-part psychological thriller is an ABC co-production with BBC One. It stars Doctor Who star Jenna Coleman and Ewen Leslie as a husband and wife who travel from Scotland to Australia with their baby, who then disappears, triggering breakdowns, global media attention and a marriage in turmoil. The series also stars Asher Keddie.

Asher Keddie will return to the ABC in new series, The Cry Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts
Asher Keddie will return to the ABC in new series, The Cry Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts

Backburning: The Midnight Oil documentary is the story of a band born in the politically aware 1970s, in the midst of a punk movement. Over 40 years, its music has spanned generations and big changes in public attitudes about what makes Australia.

Content: An intriguing video series designed to be watched on your phone. Shot in vertical format, to fit the phone screen, Content will follow Gen Y-er Lucy, so desperate for social media fame and influence that she'll do anything, even vegan mukbanging (whatever that is). The story will also play out through Lucy's phone screen, where the audience will see what the character experiences - Google searches, private texts, calls and photos. From the sound of it is, the format is probably similar to the John Cho movie, Searching.

Diary of an Uber Driver: Based on a popular blog, the scripted series will follow Uber driver Ben as he meets fascinating and odd people on his daily drives. He has his own personal demons to conquer and who better to provide him insight than total strangers in his passenger seat?

The Cult of the Family: A documentary series that will explore the enigmatic and notorious Australian cult, The Family, and its charismatic leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, a one-time yoga teacher who has surrounded herself with followers that worship her like god. At the core of The Family's goals is to raise a "master race" of blond children who will save humanity after Armageddon.


What happy tykes.
What happy tykes.

Will Australia Ever Have a Black Prime Minister? In a federal election year, this ABC series will ask what it'll take for the country to elect an indigenous person to the top job through the hypothetical prism of a newly born Indigenous child and what potential checkpoints they would have to hit to find their way to Canberra and succeed.

Magical Land of Oz: Barry Humphries will narrate this natural history series that will take viewers from the highest snow peaks in Australia to the depths of the southern seas, and taking them into the world of the incredible creatures that call Australia home.

Love on the Spectrum: Relationships and dating is hard enough even when you don't also have to balance the challenges of being on the spectrum. For people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, finding a partner is often a daunting experience, as revealed in this series which also seeks to teach everyone something new about love and intimacy.

Mystify: More than 20 years after his death, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence remains a fascinating figure to anyone who's ever heard his music. This doco will chart the complex character from his troubled beginnings to the soaring highs of musical success and back down through his depression and unravelling personal life.

The Crown and Us: The Story of the Royals in Australia: Maybe after a year of royal weddings and visits, Australians will be sit of the Windsors by next year, but then again, probably not. Using archival footage, this docuseries will explore the deeply entrenched relationship Australians have with our monarchist overlords over in Old Blighty.

Wenlei Ma travelled to Melbourne as a guest of the ABC.

Share your TV and movies obsessions: @wenleima

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