Mr Inbetween: The Hidden Gem of Australian Television

  • Genre : Crime, Drama
  • Creator : Scott Ryan
  • Release date: 25 September 2018
  • Directed by: Nash Edgerton
  • No. of Seasons : 3
  • No. of Episodes : 26
  • Producer : Michele Bennett
  • Cast : Scott Ryan as Raymond “Ray” Shoesmith, a hitman known as “The Magician”, Justin Rosniak as Gary Thomas, Ray’s best friend, Brooke Satchwell as Ally, Ray’s girlfriend, Nicholas Cassim as Bruce Shoesmith, Ray’s older brother who has a motor neuron disease, Chika Yasumura as Brittany, Ray’s daughter, Damon Herriman as Freddy, Ray’s boss

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In the ever-evolving landscape of television, certain gems shine brightly but often remain overlooked. Among these treasures, “Mr Inbetween” stands out as a crime caper that combines hapless criminals, ocker gang bosses, and a morally ambiguous yet lovable hitman. It’s a show that has garnered recognition abroad and earned a cult following, yet its popularity at home has been curiously restrained. This raises questions about the state of the Australian TV industry.

In the realm of Australian television, there are two shows that can be deemed untouchable: “Love My Way” and “Mr Inbetween.” While “Love My Way” has solidified its place in Australian pop culture history, “Mr Inbetween” appears to be waiting for its well-deserved moment in the spotlight. Despite receiving accolades from prestigious publications like the New York Times, the show is yet to capture the hearts of local viewers, an enigma that begs to be unraveled.

“Mr Inbetween” continues the rich tradition of Australian crime comedies, a lineage that includes classics like “Two Hands” and “Gettin’ Square.” Over three compelling seasons, the show follows Ray Shoesmith, portrayed by co-creator Scott Ryan, a hitman tasked with balancing his tumultuous professional life with the demands of fatherhood, navigating a new romance, and caring for his ailing older brother. Describing Ray as having a heart of gold is perhaps too simplistic; he operates by his moral compass, where taking lives is permissible, but confrontations with huntsman spiders are off-limits because “you gotta draw the line somewhere.” Ray’s complexity makes him an entirely endearing character, despite the trail of bodies left in his wake, a character that viewers wholeheartedly support.

In true Australiana fashion, the show presents scenes featuring bumbling criminals who bungle their tasks due to sheer incompetence, or the archetypal ocker underworld figure who conducts business meetings within the confines of a strip club while bickering with his partner about toilet paper consumption. However, the show transcends these stereotypes as it unfolds, delving into profound territory. By the end of its third season, you’ll find yourself choking back tears as frequently as you burst into laughter.

What lingers in memory are the poignant moments: contemplations on grief and lost love, the weight of seemingly inconsequential decisions that set us on irrevocable paths, and the realization that there are no do-overs in life; we must bear the consequences of our actions. “Mr Inbetween” transforms into a show that shapes the viewer, unafraid to venture beyond its comedic roots, daring to delve into darkness, depth, and at times, profound sadness. In this world, there are no fairy tales, and the show thrives on its unwavering commitment to authenticity.

The Origin Story

The tale of how “Mr Inbetween” came to fruition is as exceptional as the show itself. In the early 2000s, Scott Ryan was a film school student who created an 80-minute mockumentary titled “The Magician,” centered around a hitman named Ray. This low-budget project, with a mere $3,000 budget, caught the eye of filmmaker Nash Edgerton. Edgerton encouraged Ryan to refine the film, leading to a limited cinematic release in 2005. Unfortunately, today, “The Magician” is absent from streaming platforms, with DVDs fetching exorbitant prices on eBay.

The duo’s aspiration was to adapt “The Magician” into a television series. After years of setbacks, Ryan eventually abandoned his dream and relocated to Echuca, where he started driving taxis. Miraculously, 13 years after “The Magician” first graced screens, the US cable network FX came calling. This time, the dream became a reality, and the series was born. Scott Ryan, who had never acted professionally before or since, delivers a flawless portrayal of Ray.

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A Bounty of Episodes Awaits

If you have yet to embark on the journey of “Mr Inbetween,” a treasure trove of 26 episodes awaits your discovery. However, a word of caution: falling in love with “Mr Inbetween” may leave you somewhat frustrated. Not with the show itself, which is undeniably exceptional, but with the scarcity of its kind and what it implies about the state of the Australian television industry.

This scenario brings to mind a statement made in 2015 by John Edwards, co-creator of “Love My Way,” regarding the state of the drama production industry. He described it as stagnant, marked by declining production, the repetition of the same writers, escalating costs with no noticeable improvement in quality, dwindling audiences, and growing dependence on subsidies. “Mr Inbetween” serves as a testament to the heights Australian television can reach when it sheds the mundane and uninspiring, receives adequate funding, and welcomes fresh voices.

Without a doubt, “Mr Inbetween” will eventually be hailed as one of Australia’s greatest TV shows. However, you need not wait for that day to arrive before immersing yourself in this extraordinary series.

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