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New Zealand is always innovating when it comes to TV shows. Whether you like a bit of crime, drama or comedy, the country has created an ample amount of series for the keenest of spectators. Here’s a selection of local hits that everyone should watch.
This comedy/crime/drama series aired in New Zealand from 2005 until 2010 and enjoyed commercial success both domestically and abroad. The show has been exported to places like Australia, Italy, Canada and Ireland, and has even spurred new versions in the United Kingdom (a TV show called Honest) and in the United States (a series called Scoundrels). Outrageous Fortune followed the career-criminal West family, headed by Cheryl and Wolfgang (‘Wolf’) West, as the matriarch tries to get all family members to abide by the law after Wolf ends up in jail.
Westside is the prequel to Outrageous Fortune and chronicles the lives of Ted and Rita West. The first season, which aired in 2015, is set in 1970s West Auckland. Each episode focuses on a different year of the West family’s lives as historic events like the dawn raids on Pacific overstayers and the birth of the punk rock scene in Auckland take place. Season two is set in 1981 during the Springbok tour, while the third series takes place a year later and introduces the relationship between Outrageous Fortune’s leading family members, Wolf and Cheryl.
The Almighty Jonhnsons is a fantasy comedy-drama show that aired from 2011 and 2013. It is about four brothers who discover that they are actually Norse gods – only they’re not very powerful, nor do they have full control over their abilities. It is ultimately up to 21-year-old Axl Johnson, the reincarnation of Odin, to restore his family’s powers and safeguard the family’s lineage.
The Cult was an ambitious, albeit short-lived, TV series that screened in 2009 and has been broadcast in Australia, Spain, Portugal and Poland. At the time the show was billed as a New Zealand alternative to the US hit Lost, only without the confusing twists and turns. The story follows a group of people as they try to save their loved ones from a mysterious cult known as the Two Gardens.
This detective drama series is set in the fictitious country town of Brokenwood. Detective Inspector Mike Shepherd is sent from Auckland into the town to investigate a local police officer. As his first murder investigation in Brokenwood comes to a conclusion, Shepherd decides to stay on indefinitely. The Brokenwood Mysteries premiered in 2014 and was renewed for a fourth season in 2017.
Australian-Kiwi comedy-drama series 800 Words is about a widowed father, George Turner, who decides to quit his job as a newspaper columnist in Sydney and relocate to a remote New Zealand town. He impulsively buys a property over the Internet, and has to break the news about the fresh start to his grieving kids. As the family settles into their new home and comes to meet the town’s inquisitive locals, Turner realises that his dream of a clean slate might not go according to plan. The series ran for three seasons from 2015 to 2017.
Nothing Trivial followed five friends, all in their 30s and 40s, who meet and compete against each other in a weekly pub quiz. As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that these mates have more than a simple weekly tradition in common – in fact, they have the unfortunate shared characteristic of being unlucky in love. The series first aired in 2011 and screened for three seasons.
Go Girls first aired in New Zealand in 2009 and enjoyed a successful five-season run until 2013. The show primarily focuses on four friends – a man and three women – residing on Auckland’s North Shore, though the fifth season follows two male and three female characters. Even though the tale has an obvious female domination, the first episode starts with a twist: a male narration. The series also begins with the friends making a promise that they will each make life-changing decisions by the end of the year.
This mockumentary-style comedy offers a satirical take on popular reality TV shows like The Bachelor. It follows two metrosexual Maori men who can only claim the hefty inheritance their grandmother left them by finding themselves a Maori bride. In order to succeed, the two men have to get in touch with their cultural roots in a way they have never done before.
Step Dave was a two-season comedy-drama which aired in 2014 and 2015. The plot is centred around Dave, a 24-year-old bartender who is best described as a Kiwi ‘slacker’. In the first episode of the series, Dave rescues single mum Cara from a disastrous blind date that ends in a sprained ankle – right then and there, he decides he has met the woman of his dreams.