Think there’s nothing on television except reality? You’re wrong.
There are still engaging, witty, well-written shows out there. Before you get sucked into the second round of reality television shows – MasterChef, House Rules and The Voice – here are the programs you really should be watching.
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you should tune in to Vikings. Australian actor Travis Fimmel is compelling in the lead role of Ragnar Lothbrok. Lothbrok, a restless Viking warrior and family man, tries to conquer new lands across the sea and claim the spoils as his own. Fimmel has the ability to make you love Lothbrok and to admire his intelligence, even though he can be horribly cruel. It also helps he’s a former underwear model with stunning blue eyes. Lothbrok’s love interest, Princess Aslaug, is also an Australian: Alyssa Sutherland.
PUBERTY BLUES: SEASON TWO (Network Ten)
The first season of Puberty Blues was a ratings smash for Ten, but sadly season two has been ignored by viewers. This is a mistake. Puberty Blues is one of the most well-written, thought-provoking dramas on free-to-air television. It has an incredible cast and is brutally honest about the lives of teenagers. Catch up on Ten Play and remember why you loved Debbie and Sue so much in 2013.
GAME OF THRONES (Foxtel)
It’s hard to avoid spoilers for Game of Thrones. So don’t. Start watching it. The storytelling will transport you into a world of fantasy where justice, social hierarchy, religion, loyalty, corruption and punishment are explored. The characters are complex, the writing reveals true wit and depth, and there are rivalries that make My Kitchen Rules look like child’s play. Set in the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos at the end of a decade-long summer, Game of Thrones follows several families in a civil war for the Iron Throne and Seven Kingdoms. Then there are the strange creatures of the north that just want to kill all men.
HOUSE OF CARDS (Foxtel)
Watching this US political drama will make you question every move made by politicians. Kevin Spacey is sensational as Frank Underwood, a US senator who claws his way to power through manipulation and very questionable deals. Its cult following is truly deserved.
Remember all those horribly embarrassing moments of your early 20s? The awkward sexual interactions, the pathetic attempts to sustain a job and pay rent? This show puts all that in your face. In Girls, you will recognise at least one of your friends, if not yourself. Lena Dunham writes and stars. She’s not your usual perfect-bodied television actor. She’s real. She makes really bad fashion and life choices most of the time, and that’s why we love Girls.
OFFSPRING (Network Ten)
Yes, Patrick is gone. But he wasn’t the only reason we fell in love with Offspring. What will happen to Nina and the baby? Will she be able to hold it together? Logie winner Asher Keddie is probably Ten’s best hope to bring viewers back to the network.
THE DOCTOR BLAKE MYSTERIES (ABC)
This show has resurrected Craig McLachlan from daggy pop star to respected actor. The 10-part murder series earned McLachlan a Logie nomination for most outstanding actor. The series averages one million viewers on a Friday night, and that’s a difficult thing to do. Dr Blake returns to Ballarat after a 33-year absence to take over his father’s medical practice. His character is gradually revealed and viewers discover he lost his wife and child in the Fall of Singapore, and he spent time in Thailand’s Ban Pong POW camp.
RAKE (ABC – catch up on iView)
Nothing can compare to the wit of Rake. The ABC series has just finished series three, with Richard Roxburgh starring as brilliant but self-destructive lawyer Cleaver Greene.
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (Foxtel)
Set in a women’s prison, this show is one serious emotional ride. Piper Chapman, a woman in her 30s, is sentenced to 15 months in prison for a decade-old crime of transporting cash for her drug-dealing ex-girlfriend. By the time Piper is sentenced, she’s taken up a quiet, law-abiding life among New York’s upper middle class. While in prison, Piper is reunited with Alex, and they re-examine their relationship.
MAD MEN (Foxtel)
Don Draper goes back to work at Sterling Cooper & Partners, which is pretty tense. Don and Megan are still all over the place romantically, which is also rather tense. And Betty is back for the first time in season seven of the hit US series, which has kept international audiences captivated for a reason.
SECRETS AND LIES (Catch up on Ten Play)
While most people were watching Love Child on the Nine Network, Ten aired this thrilling Aussie drama. Based on the popular UK series Broadchurch, Secrets and Lies is a murder mystery that will leave you guessing until the very end. Catch up on what you missed on Ten Play.