“Five Bedrooms” was a bright spot when it premiered last summer in the midst of the pandemic.
The ensemble Paramount+ series, which offered some much-needed escapism and comic relief, is back for Season 2 and hasn’t missed a beat in continuing the interwoven stories of five disparate friends who’ve become a closely knit family while living together in the suburbs of Australia (the eight-episode series is shot in and around Melbourne).
The action picks up three months after the Season 1 finale, in which friends Ben (Stephen Peacocke), Liz (Kat Stewart), Ainsley (Katie Robertson), Harry (Roy Joseph) and Heather (Doris Younane) were forced to move out of their house after a series of unfortunate events left some of them financially strapped.
They’re determined to remain a unit and they do eventually find another suburban dwelling to share — and it’s within that framework (both physically and contextually) that we catch up with their lives and meet several new additions to the cast.
Ainsley is closer to giving birth after a Season 1 dalliance with her caddish co-worker, Lachlan (Hugh Sheridan), who also simultaneously impregnated his ex-wife, Melanie (Kate Jenkinson); man-child Ben and the much-older Heather are still an item, though they’re keeping it on the down-low from their housemates; Harry’s mother has come to terms with the fact that her doctor son is gay, and is hell-bent on finding a guy for him; and attorney Liz, bankrupted by her ex-husband, is dipping her toe into the dating waters and exploring other career opportunities. Liz’s ex, Stuart (Rodger Corser), will soon enter the picture, as will Ben’s brother, Joseph (Daniel Lapaine, “Catastrophe”), an investment banker, and Harry’s new friend, stylish club owner Xavier (Josh McKenzie).
Even though it’s been a year since “Five Bedrooms” first premiered — and there’s always the “TV anxiety” that you won’t remember what happened in Season 1 — fear not, in this case. There’s an instant comfort level with these characters, perhaps because they’re so sharply drawn, and even if you’re fuzzy on last season you’ll be caught up within minutes.
(Paramount+ has renewed “Five Bedrooms” for a third season, which began shooting this past Thursday.)
The chemistry between the five leads is palpable — you can imagine these people hanging out in real life — and the ways in which they share their trials and tribulations is believable and not too sugarcoated in that TV-comedy type of way. There’s love, laughter, loss and even some legal challenges they will face this season (don’t want to give too much away) and it’s all confronted head-on in realistic, unpretentious fashion without too many trope-y embellishments. The house itself, and its Melbourne surroundings, also adds a smattering of local atmosphere.
If you’re unfamiliar with “Five Bedrooms,” and want to catch yourself up before jumping in, Season 1 is available to stream. Either way, you’ll be drawn into the lives and adventures of Ben, Heather, Harry, Liz and Ainsley.