Life looks dreamy in Stan's new drama, but scratch the surface and there's not enough to care about.
In the sumptuous surrounds of Eden life is dreamy.
A pristine surf coast and lighthouse to the right, ethereal forests to the left and a pampering wellness centre populated by tree-huggers in between….
Welcome to Eden, Stan’s latest local drama where a chilled-out paradise is but a facade for secrets and lies and young adult romance.
Shot in Byron Bay (and not the actual Eden NSW), the mystery begins when Scout (Sophie Wilde) returns home from New York. Her mother Saranya (Alexandria Steffensen) runs a wellness centre with boyfriend Huckleberry (Dustin Clare) which is home to robed retreaters spellbound in meditation, not far from hydrofoiling tourists.
Scout discovers her best friend Hedwig (BeBe Bettencourt) has changed since last they met, but it could possibly be from a lack of purpose.
“I’m angry with every single human being on this planet, Scout. The world’s on fire, the ocean’s choking…” Hedwig reveals. Hey at least you’re not in lockdown, girlfriend.
Overlooking the coastal bad boys (I’ll get to those), Scout has a thang for Hedwig and it only takes a few popped pills to reach ecstasy together.
Meanwhile recovering detective Ezra Katz (Sam Johnson) arrives in town after disgracing himself in the big smoke to work alongside a group of young cops whose sleek designer uniforms signpost that this force plays by their own rules. But Ezra has a heart, and is caring for his mother Florence, living with dementia and played by veteran Maggie Kirkpatrick -bravely willing to appear in a full frontal nudity. None of the lead stars matched her when they discreetly shielded their modesty….
Episode 2 offers an alternate perspective from Damian, an angry writer battling creativity (Mark Leonard Winter) and demanding girlfriend Cora (Cassandra Sorrell) who take up residence in a swanky rental, where Hedwig invites them to a local party. In Eden nobody seems to work much, either…
The party is held by local movie star Andy (Cody Fern), not to be confused with actual Hollywood types livin’ the good life, wink wink. But in between the music and drugs, relationships and tempers become frayed.
Other characters include Rachael Blake as a local principal, Hunter Page-Lochard as Scout’s boyfriend Fred, Claude Jabbour as a corrupt local cop and Keiynan Lonsdale as a drug dealing squatter -the latter will have a more prominent role as episodes progress.
There are also some heavyweight names behind the scenes including Every Cloud’s Fiona Eagger & Deb Cox (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, SeaChange), Bryan Elsley (Skins), Fiona McConaghy (The Kettering Incident, Rosehaven), John Curran (Bloom, Tracks), Peter Andrikidis (Underbelly), Mirrah Foulkes (Judy & Punch), Lizzie Gardiner (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and Director of Photography Geoffrey Hall, who captures some lush scenic backdrops -one of the best things about the series.
Sam Johnson’s experience in creating a character of interest quickly floats to the surface. But the script by creator Vanessa Gazy revolves too much around dull kids floating in and out of AirBnBs and bumping into trippy kids who have strayed too far from Nimbin (Christian Wilkins in a cameo). If this is how Gen Z is spending their time on the coast then Byron Baes has a much bigger problem than a few Instagrammers upsetting the local mayor…
While it’s clear the show is also setting up its universe (for a probable whodunnit), there’s too much gloominess and bickering at the expense of plot and characters, to stick around longer.
That just leaves us with the postcard backdrop which at 8 episodes is not enough without an actual Hemsworth involved.
Eden premieres Friday on Stan.