One of the most feel-good, entertaining dramas on telly today is the Aussie series Five Bedrooms, and its second season is about to premiere in the US.
Five Bedrooms follows the lives of five men and women who, after meeting at the singles’ table at a wedding and drinking lots of champagne, decide to buy a house together. The reality of their grand social experiment doesn’t really sink in until they start moving in — and realize that they actually have to live with each other now.
The five housemates are lawyer Liz Wendell (Kat Stewart, Offspring); surgeon and Liz’s gay best friend, Harry Sethi (Roy Joseph, Back in Very Small Business); contractor Ben Chigwell (Stephen Peacocke, Home and Away); real estate agent Ainsley Elling (Katie Robertson, Rosehaven); and nurse Heather Doyle (Doris Younane, McLeod’s Daughters), who had been Ainsley’s landlady. Heather wasn’t the original fifth person in the shared house. That was supposed to be Ainsley’s colleague and (now-former) love interest, the married (and formerly separated) Lachlan Best (Hugh Sheridan, Packed to the Rafters), who ended up getting back together with his wife, Melanie (Kate Jenkinson, Wentworth).
(Note: Spoilers follow for folks who haven’t seen the first season.)
When we left the fivesome at the end of Season 1, each of them was in a different place than when they moved in together. Having left her family, 50-something Heather and 30-something Ben realized their mutual attraction and became intimately involved (but not totally publicly). Ainsley became pregnant by Lachlan (as did Melanie) and chose to keep the baby. Harry’s mum, Manju (Kumud Merani, Spice Sisters), had a medical emergency, so he moved to her house to care for her. And Liz discovered that she was bankrupt and then lost her law firm job — which contributed to the group being forced to sell their home.
Season 2 opens three months later.
Liz, Ben, Heather, Ainsley, and Harry have been house-hunting together again, so favorable was their experience the first time. But at one property auction, Liz spies someone amongst the prospective buyers that she didn’t expect to see: Stuart Wendell, her ex-husband (Rodger Corser, The Heart Guy, Glitch, McLeaod’s Daughters). Ultimately, the group purchases a fixer-upper, and Ben and his mate, Simmo (Johnny Carr, The Secret Daughter), take on doing the renovations. But a mishap leads to a bad injury for Ben, who ends up in a rather serious mess and contacts his über-successful brother, Joseph (Daniel Lapaine, Upright, Catastrophe, The Durrells in Corfu), for help.
In the area of relationships, Ben and Heather go public with theirs while Harry begins one with Xavier (Josh McKenzie, Bad Mothers), a bartender introduced to him by Manju. It’s a relationship unlike any Harry has ever been in before. In familiar territory is Liz, who has reconnected with Stuart.
Meanwhile, Heather learns something surprising about a family member — and herself. And despite the venom being directed at her by Melanie, Ainsley actually befriends the woman, as their children will be siblings.
There’s enough goodness going around in their little part of the world that makes it a lovely place to be, whether one is a member of the five-person household or not. But there are also issues brewing, from workplace problems to judgments expressed in harsh words, and all of it will come to a head — precipitated by a devastating tragedy.
Before all is said and done, the friends will rally around another housemate, one who makes a life-changing decision that, once again, affects the whole household.
Five Bedrooms was one of the feel-good series that helped me get through lockdown last year, and even if 2020 had been a normal year, it still would have been one of my favorite new shows. Its themes are universal, its cast is fabulous, and its stories demonstrate how home really is what you make it, how family is as much a group of good friends as it is a bunch of blood relatives, and how love comes in many forms and is expressed in numerous ways. It’s full of warmth and humor, laughter and tears, but it isn’t sappy in the least.
I can’t recommend this series enough. Seriously, go watch it.
Filming on the third season has started, and fans of the show (including yours truly) are stoked that there will be more of Liz, Ben, Heather, Ainsley, and Harry to come.
Five Bedrooms: Season 2, a Peacock Original series, premieres in the US with all eight episodes on Thursday, August 19, exclusively on Peacock.
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