It’s rare for us to celebrate the return of a show, so hooray for the new series of Frayed! In this second outing of Sarah Kendall’s dramedy, we find Sammy (Kendall), Lenny (Frazer Hadfield) and Tess Cooper (Maggie Ireland-Jones) back in London, desperately missing Newcastle despite having flashbacks to what happened with former next-door neighbour Terry.
Series one ended with Terry (Christopher Stollery), a violent misogynist cop who beat up his rebellious daughter Abby (Alexandra Jensen), accidentally shot by Lenny. Months later but still in shock, the Coopers are now struggling to make the best of things in one of London’s less salubrious areas. As Sammy tries to get back the mansion stolen from them by dodgy lawyer Rufus (Robert Webb), rats scurry around their mouldy rented tenement, with only Legal Aid lawyer Hannah (Gemma Whelan) offering them any kind of hope of redemption.
Meanwhile, back in Newcastle, Sergeant Fairbank (Hamish Michael), brought in from Melbourne to find out what happened to Terry, takes an interest in Terry’s next-door neighbours Jean (Kerry Armstrong) and Jim (Ben Mingay), Sammy’s mother and brother. Will Fairbank be able to connect the Coopers to Terry’s disappearance? Will this cause problems back in London? And what’s the deal with the disappearance of Sammy’s Dad 20 years ago?
Frayed, unusually for an Australian dramedy, has a genuinely compelling and suspenseful plot, lots of funny lines, and well-written, complex characters. Even bit parts like the dodgy man at the Legal Aid office with the pet pigeons feel like real people rather than cutaway gags or background colour. The scripts are thoughtful, witty and well-honed, and the ensemble cast, which includes of some of the best characters actors from Australia and the UK, do a brilliant job of bringing it to life.
This is a show borne of Sarah Kendall’s life lived in two countries, and in this show, she pokes fun at both nations with great love and affection. Frayed is at once a love letter to family, an exorcising of demons and pure fiction, but so well-grounded in reality, that almost anyone can relate to it.