Maybe the news of Downton Abbey ending after its upcoming sixth season has you feeling slightly depressed. Perhaps you’re equally tired of preppy English accents and upstairs-downstairs drama. Or maybe you’ve breezed through the latest seasons of your favorite British imports. Whatever the case may be, one thing’s certain: You need a show to scratch your itch for historical-driven drama, period costume and racy intrigue, especially since the upcoming season of Outlander is still a week away.
Enter A Place to Call Home, a 13-episode TV series imported from down under that’s available now on Acorn TV. We’ve seen the first season, and it’s a must-watch ahead of the second season premiere on April 6. Here’s seven reasons why:
A gutsy heroine
Set in the early 1950s, A Place to Call Home tells the story of Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp), a down-to-earth nurse whose no-nonsense manners make her instantly likeable. But wait, there’s more! Despite her friendly ways and easy demeanor, Nurse Adams has a few secrets: namely, that she’s Jewish and was once a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp. It turns out that the folks of New South Wales, where she’s returned to live and work after spending time in Europe, aren’t fans of outspoken, independent women who happen to identify as Jews. That being the case, her faith emerges as a major plot point in this intelligent family saga, bringing up religious discrimination, persecution, and ideology in Britain’s southernmost colony in the years following WWII.
The series tackles women’s rights, homosexuality, religious freedom, bigotry, immigration and much more, making it a compelling look at Australian culture within the evolving context of the mid-20th century. Sure, there are catfights, secrets, suspense, love affairs and betrayals, but this addictive drama offers much more than your run-of-the-mill primetime soap.
A biddy that means business
Lifetime critics—ahem, aficionados—of period drama knows that a series is only as good as its villainess. Enter Elizabeth Bligh (Noni Hazlehurst). She’s prickly to be sure, but she’s also conniving, secretive and knows no boundaries when it comes to protecting her loved ones against harm—and one blonde-haired nurse whom she suspects has the wherewithal to take down her family. Grab your pearls before you sit down to watch, because given this character’s antics, you’ll need something to clutch.
Multi-dimensional gay characters
James Bligh (David Berry) seems to have it all: He’s good looking, well educated, wealthy, and newly married to London socialite Olivia (Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood). But his smiling demeanor hides a painful secret: He’s gay. His gut-wrenching journey—as he battles depression, tries to hide his sexuality, and later experiments with gay conversion therapy—is a powerful portrait of homosexual life in a closeted, class-conscious society, and one offered up with rare success.
Lots of eye candy
No good TV show is without token hotties, and lucky for us, A Place to Call Home has plenty. There’s the silver fox (heyyy Brett Climo!), the sexy son (David Berry), the swarthy Italian (Aldo Mignone—more on him later), a delicious, albeit slightly depressed, country doctor (Craig Duncan), and a few other characters that pop up, making this show fun to watch and easy on the eyes.
Forbidden romance always makes for a fun plot point, but when a culture clash is added to the equation, the stakes are often higher—and more poignant. So when the young heiress of the house, Anna (Abby Duncan), finds herself falling in love with Gino (Mignone), the son of Italian immigrants, she discovers there’s more at stake than a possible pregnancy: By being with him, she’s linking herself to someone who is considered a second-class citizen on the sole basis of race.
Fascinating period fashion
The ’50s are a popular fashion period reference—think Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly—but how much do you really know about post-WWII designs? From old-money couture to working-girl chic, A Place To Call Home pays excruciating detail to its costumes, showcasing the A-line skirts, padded shoulders, single-breasted coats, two-piece suits, dinner jackets, and cardigans that emerged with the freedom that distinguished fashion during this all-important period of transition.