Byron Baes

There's yoga, crystals, cacao, soundhealing and Instagrammers -but what was all the fuss over the new Netflix series?

In 2003 Barbra Streisand tried to have an aerial photo of coastal erosion in California removed from public records because it included pictures of her mansion. At the time it had been downloaded just 6 times from the photographer’s website.

But after her lawsuit it led to 420,000 visiting the site in a month, giving rise to the term “Streisand effect” where the attempt to suppress leads to even greater publicity.

Enter Byron Baes, a new docu-soap which was the subject of local protests by Byron Bay residents who didn’t want their town to be portrayed as the perfect backdrop and magnet for social media influencers (maybe Hollywood A-listers are preferred?).

It attracted international headlines and in doing so generated all the dream publicity Netflix could have hoped for.

Based on the first episode, they needn’t have bothered. The show probably would have ticked over without a great deal of fuss.

Just one episode was sent for review and while it works the genre hard, there are some fundamental storytelling problems that should have sent it back to the editing suite.

Like most docu-soaps (Real Housewives, Jersey Shore, The Hills), much of what you see is constructed. While it’s not scripted dialogue, you just know that when Person A says they really want to invite Person B to their party it’s usually at the behest of Person C, the producer. Which is fine if you don’t take it all too seriously…. this is a guilty pleasure genre after all.

The cast of Byron Baes (some of whom are Byron-raised residents), are cemented to their Instagram accounts, and Byron is considered a mecca for perfect snapshots of sunrises, greenery, sexy folk, meditation, branding and merchandise.

Ready to make her mark is singer Sarah, who drives from the GC to meet talent manager Alex, who agrees to bring her to a party being thrown by a ‘bohemian’ brand manager Hannah, whom we meet snapping pics with her mother Kathy.

Hannah is also friends with a former hook-up, digital marketer Nathan, who is besties with model and surfer Elias (he describes himself as a “deep thinker”), and it’s clear all roads are leading to said party.

But Hannah has history, apparently, with local fashion designer Jess Belle, who has booming online business with sister Lauren, after a Kardashian wore her clothes. Many of the conversations we are privy to centre around some sort of falling out between Hannah and Jess, but the party will hopefully smooth things over. Yeah, right.

There’s also flamboyant newcomer Jade, who purports to be Australia’s most popular male influencer, driving from the GC to the trippy Byron backdrop, plus eco entrepreneur Elle who makes ceremonial cacaos, and assorted pretty people I’ve admittedly forgotten.

To be clear, I don’t consider myself the target audience for this show. The backdrop is indeed alluring, but in between the namaste yoga on the beach, flowing white outfits, soundhealing (it’s a thing apparently), crystals and holistic health coaches, I felt pretty cheated.

Too much time was devoted to the rift between Hannah and Jess which all takes place prior to filming. I’m not even sure what their fall-out was over (there’s a vague reference to a street argument over “a situation”). It’s a classic case of show me, don’t tell me.

Then after so much faux set-up, we didn’t see the expected catfight. Surely both problems could have been solved with an actual fallout at the party, on camera, in the story itself?

No doubt the conflict will fire up in subsequent episodes so I fully expect this to become a hit with said target audience.

To its credit the show does walk a delicate tightrope between serious namaste and wanker skepticism.

So far, I’m left to ponder what was all the fuss about?

Byron Baes screens Wednesday on Netflix.

8 Responses

  1. 2 stars too many David. Overseas markets get great commissions, we get this.

    Curiosity got the better of me, and I lasted about 15 minutes. Terrible people talking about nothing. I wonder if Heartbreak High will go through the same approval process (none by the looks of it)? Lord help us!

  2. Anyone who watches Married at First Sight will probably understand the popularity of this Netflix show, I could have something to say about this genre but would probably offend everyone, so wont.

  3. great read david no suprise you were not a fan I will watch one episode if I can get through I always find it ironic that its call reality tv when they manipulate the hell out of it

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