Frayed, ABC IVIEW
“We hold these truths to be self-evident. It is time to see our own landscapes, hear our own voices and dream our own dreams.” These words from broadcaster Phillip Adams to then prime minister John Gorton helped revive Australia’s film industry in the 1970s. Now, with more overseas TV shows and films available than ever before, it’s easy to forget about the importance of those truths. Lucky we have the brilliant new ABC TV comedy Frayed to remind us.
The year is 1989 and a posh housewife, Sammy (played by the show’s writer/creator, Sarah Kendall, pictured), is forced to leave her London mansion with no money, two very English children and only her mum’s beach shack in Newcastle, NSW, for accommodation. It’s a broad premise that Kendall could easily have padded out with lazy gags and mindless nostalgia. Thankfully it’s filled with the kind of quality writing we usually only see in international comedies such as Fleabag or Succession.
Frayed is a critical look at Australia, to be sure, but not a cynical one. It’s as likely to highlight our tendency to be small-minded as it is to celebrate our capacity to be big-hearted. Through Sammy and her children, we see the best and worst of who we are. There’s our breezy kindness, addressing almost anyone as “love” and “darl”. But then there’s the way we can be laid-back to a fault, allowing some man-children to never grow up, like Sammy’s brother Jim (Ben Mingay).
There is no shortage of amazing overseas comedies on streaming services, but watching Frayed highlights to me another self-evident truth that could also have been on Adams’ list. You never laugh as hard as when you’re laughing at yourself.