The deft balance between its quippy humor, progressive sensibility, and compelling mystery ground this ambitious Aussie show


TV Show

Australia, United States of America
Comedy, Crime
Alicia Gardiner, Harvey Zielinski, Kate Box


If you ever wondered what would happen if you mix a procedural like Law & Order with a sitcom like Parks & Recreation, this would be it.

What it's about

After a series of mysterious murders plagues a small town in Tasmania, two detectives—one hard-nosed and one eccentric—team up to help solve the case.

The take

Deadloch begins like any other self-serious police procedural. A body washes up on shore, sparking widespread fear and a twisty mystery that eventually and intriguingly reveals layers of itself. Local officer Dulcie Collins (Kate Box) takes to it like it’s the most important case in the world, and for some reason, everything we see onscreen is tinged in gray, as if the town is set under a perpetual stormcloud. 

Then a joke finds its way into the dialogue, followed by another, and another. The show, it turns out, is as much of a sitcom as it is a mystery, with Dulcie acting as the straight man grounding us through the kookiness of it all. The rest of the characters are actual characters, wonderfully zany and larger-than-life as they bumble around and commit small-town gaffes. A hearse screeches to a halt when a random passerby yells, “You’re going the wrong way!”, and a millennial policewoman exclaims, “I can’t believe I’m on a stakeout! It’s so aggressively police-y.” 

It’s quite the risk to be both funny and serious, to dole out this many jokes while solving multiple murders, but Deadloch pulls it off with so much charm to spare. It’s a refreshing take on the buddy-cop series, ambitious and modern and unafraid to laugh at itself every once in a while.

What stands out

This is a very female-forward show. I don’t just mean politically, but quite literally, the female characters, mostly queer, far outnumber the male characters in a refreshing reversal of roles. It’s even become a running joke that the guys have to look elsewhere for possible partners. But far from being gender-blind or cheeky, Deadloch addresses how this tilt affects its characters. Despite leading the biggest case to hit the town, lead detectives Dulcie and Eddie (Madeleine Sami) are constantly looked down on not just for their gender but for their sexuality as well (Dulcie is an open lesbian). In a similar vein, Dulcie’s junior, Abby (Nina Oyama) admires her female superiors but can’t seem to get away from her bigoted boyfriend. How Deadloch plays with equal opportunity (or more accurately, the myth of it) adds an interesting dynamic to an already bold show.


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