First Review: East West 101

Roll up your sleeves Australia, there’s another cop show on the way.

But unlike the smooth, designer settings of inner city Melbourne in Seven’s City Homicide, it’s a very gritty blue-collar world in SBS’ Sydney-shot East West 101.

This 6-part series isn’t afraid to tackle stories from the streets. The opening episode depicts two young Arab-Australian boys in Sydney’s West, accused of shooting a police officer. This is a community berated by police and stereotyped by media. But what about the people behind such headlines?

Heading the series is the tough-talking William McInnes (Seachange, Curtin) as Senior Detective Ray Crowley of the Major Crime squad. He never sees eye to eye with his colleague, an introspective, Muslim cop played by Don Hany. As the title suggests, their methodology in crime-solving is a steep learning curve for both.

The two more than impress in their lead roles. When they aren’t arguing in each others’ faces, they propel their performances through steely subtext. Susie Porter also looks set to give these men a tough time as their superior officer.

Created and produced by the team from Wildside and White Collar Blue this is aggressive, volatile storytelling. There are hand-held cameras, taut ensemble scenes and honest family stories. Ripped from the suburbs this mix of action and emotion is expertly handled by director Peter Andrikidis.

SBS has shown this year that it will tackle contemporary Australian dramas that commercial networks would only consider in pretty packaging. But East West 101 is painfully real in theme and importance.

It may very well be our best local drama series all year.

Premieres Thursday December 6 at 8.30pm on SBS.


  1. This show, while probably trying to highlight ethnic issues in Australia, does more to create problems than it does to help them.

    It creates problems because it stresses the differences between two groups of people. People watching accept this difference and then apply it in there lives. People see more often in the street an Arabs, Australians, Asian, Indians etc. instead of seeing just Australians.

    By calling someone Arab-Australian, Australian-Arab, Chinese-Australian, Australian-Chinese etc. you are actually saying at the same time that the particular person is somehow not a full Australian. This show makes such statements acceptable.

    Also how is the ‘Arab’ cop Arab? Is someone an Arab just because of the style of their beard?

  2. loved the show and hope to be able to see series 2 when it is available in canada, the only thing is being north american sometimes i had a hard time understanding the australian slang. maybe the show should have english sub titles for people outside australia

  3. I watched all episodes of East West last year and i have to say there isnt an Australian cop show like it . East West in most epsisodes is an explosion of action from start to finish , it makes all Australian cop shows past and present seem like romper room or playschool . East West is how all Australian programs should be made its like those big budget American cop shows . One would think after watching it , it was made by hollywood producers . It’s sought of like a cop version of mad max , that my friends is how all Australian cop shows should be made. I look forward to season two and hope it continues further channel seven take note this is how you make a cop show !

  4. Ok, it was pretty good but let’s not get carried away…
    Only two characters really emerged and the development of them was kinda shallow. Lots of plot that didn’t work so well – like the back-to-back scenes of people we didn’t know or care about being shot and the rather limp line on the father of the arab cop. The fact that the surviving cop involved in the shooting was left off-screen and saved for the resolution was very cheap. As for the arab-christian bit I was actually hoping to learn something about the muslim culture but it was all titillation and no revelation, wasnt’ it?

  5. What an excellent show! Great casting, scripts, locations that reflect reality for the mix of cultures living in Auburn-Lidcombe areas. A wakeup call to Sydney siders of maintream who know at head level what’s going on. Important to see and realise the attitudes that are still prevalent in society. Well done SBS for this show and “The Circuit”.
    Sue Western Sydney

  6. Watched the show and thought it was impressive as a muslim living in the area its shows the truth of how we are some what “labeled” in the community

  7. I looked forward to it too, but was very disappointed by episode one last night.

    The over-the-top tension between the two lead characters totally dominated the show, relegating what should have been the central plot, that being the crime they were investigating, to the background.

    It is highly doubtful that such outright racism from an ‘anglo’ cop to his colleague is going to lead to en enduring or indeed endurable police partnership (in the real world), but then it only has to last 6 episodes I guess.

    Perhaps my response is tainted by the loss of ‘Unit One’, a series which in my view managed much better to maintain the personal lives and relationships of the main characters in the right balance with the central plot, that being the investigation.


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