The female-led Aussie dramedy miniseries The Unusual Suspects, which premiered in the US yesterday, is a humorous heist romp with not-so-funny undertones.
Featuring a female lead cast headlined by the award-winning Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings), The Unusual Suspects is now streaming in the US exclusively on Hulu.
Set in the exclusive Vauclause suburb of Sydney, the miniseries centers on several women who, through circumstances of their own and others’ making, unite for a common cause: money.
Sara Beasley (Miranda Otto) is the owner-operator of woman’s wellness website Beautiful Beastlies, and she is about to make a very lucrative deal selling it to an American company. Except photos of her in a compromising position with her ex-beau get published in a tabloid, and the resultant PR nightmare threatens both the deal and her marriage. An unintended victim of Sara’s situation (especially her financial one) is Evie (Aina Dumlao, MacGuyver), Sara’s Filipina nanny, who holds everything together in the Beasley household while suffering in silence from having left her daughter in the Philippines.
Elsewhere in Vauclause, Roxanne Waters (Michelle Vergara Moore, The Time of Our Lives), a self-made Filipina businesswoman with a popular brick-and-mortar spa, believes her life is all that and a bag of chips — until her husband is arrested for fraud. Amongst the victims of his chicanery are some of Roxanne’s customers, as well as her housekeeper and longtime friend, Amy (Lena Cruz, The Letdown). Roxanne, too, will likely lose her business and everything she’s worked so hard for because of her conman hubby.
Having seemingly little in common with her highbrow neighbors is Birdie (Heather Mitchell, A Place to Call Home), a retired lawyer who longs for a bit of adventure. She gets her wish after meeting and befriending Gigi (Susana Downes, Dead Lucky), a young firecracker from the Philippines who fashions herself as a life coach and master manifester instead of doing the job she’s supposed to be doing — cleaning the Waters’s house.
With so much in jeopardy and the rest of their lives at stake, Sara, Evie, Roxanne, and Amy concoct a plan to steal a $16 million emerald-and-diamond necklace — and cut Birdie in on the action because they basically have no choice.
The plan seems to be foolproof, and the practice runs go well. But the whole thing goes sideways when the five women set about executing the heist. With the police in their midst, one amongst them sacrifices herself for the greater good of the group. And just when the gals think they’re home free, they discover they’re right back where they started, only in worse shape — and now must figure out a way to pin the heist on someone else, lest the detectives investigating the robbery figure out it was them.
The Unusual Suspects is an entertaining, bingeable lark of a heist dramedy, with humorous moments to keep things on the lighter side. But beneath the bits of karaoke, food fights, and animated talk of manifesting one’s desires is the darker, difficult, and unattractive stuff — from selfishness and egoism, to employer abuse and worker invisibility, to racism and child abandonment. These, too, are handled with a light touch, so they don’t come off as finger-wagging, but it’s hard to overlook them nonetheless.
Costars in the four-parter are Matt Day (Rake) as Sara’s husband, Garth; Peter O’Brien (Tidelands) as Sara’s former boyfriend, Nick; Toby Leonard Moore (Billions) as Roxanne’s husband. Jordan; Sandy Gore (Farscape) as Roxanne’s mother-in-law, Jeannie; James Lugton (The Heart Guy) as Detective Moran; and Renee Lim (Clickbait) as Detective Lim.
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