Janet King: An Australian Legal Drama Worth Watching

Janet and Jack - Janet King

Recently I was able to view the entire first season of Janet King, subtitled The Enemy Within. It is a legal drama set in Sydney, Australia. This program is produced by the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC, yeah, confusing for US viewers). It is now available on Acorn.TV, a streaming service. The second season will be made available by Acorn TV starting August 29, 2016. It stars Marta Dusseldorp who also stars in A Place to Call Home and Jack Irish.

Janet King was a character on the ABC production Crownies, which was also a legal drama set in Australia. Crownies was canceled after one season, but it spun off Janet King. In the process of spinning off the series, which is by the way unusual in Australian TV, a network executive stated that they were able to get rid of elements that were not working and add other elements that worked better. Janet’s character was joined by some of the characters from Crownies, and there were also new additions.

I will try to remain vague enough in my discussion so as to not spoil anything, but no guarantees!

Complex Plot with Unexpected Twists

Janet and Erin - Janet King

Janet King follows a plot model similar to TNT’s Murder in the First. There is one season long overarching case to solve, and then several other investigations going on weekly. Although, in the instance of Janet King, most of the other cases are actually intertwined with the main case, making it sometimes hard to follow, but also very interesting to try and figure out! I actually felt the same pressure the police and prosecutors felt to find out who was behind everything and exactly what was going on.

Do you enjoy twists in the plot? Are you one of those people that can guess what is going to happen before it transpires? Or, perhaps you enjoy being blindsided by an unexpected twist? I can state unequivocally that Janet King delivers lots of twists and turns and unexpected surprises!

Contemporary Issues

Janet and Ashleigh - Janet King

Living in the US, we are familiar with our own social issues. But, I think it is true that no matter where you live, you are probably not as familiar with the social issues of other countries. While every culture has its unique problems, there are some commonalities around the world. Studying how other cultures deal with their societal concerns might help to bring our problems into better focus. This show highlights prominent social problems like child pornography, single sex marriage, and biases against women.

Now, I fully understand that TV dramas are not the most accurate source of real life situations, but if you keep that in mind while watching, you can still get a glimpse into another culture. One of the issues, and perhaps the largest, that is wrestled with is the acquittal of truly guilty criminals. This is also a common theme in many of the TV shows produced in the US. Criminals game the system, or their lawyers find some detail that a prosecutor mishandled or overlooked, and the miscreant goes free.

On top of that, it appears that no matter where you are, politics and criminal justice go hand in hand! There is a continual back and forth between the police, prosecutors, and government officials. Everyone seems to have their fingers in the battle over jurisdiction, power, and public perception.

Attire and Legal System Down Under

Owen, Lina and Maya - Janet King

So, please permit me a shallow reason for liking this program. Just take a look at the image above. What is not to like for this sartorial choice? Is it just me, or does this attire make the character adorable, despite his personality? I also really like the red robes worn by some judges, which apparently depends on the type of case being heard. I mean, seriously, American lawyers and judges should also be required to dress like this!

Now, from what I have read about the subject, not all lawyers in Australia wear this garb. It depends on what court the case is being heard in, what position the prosecutor and defense lawyers hold and also which Australian state or territory the court sits in. There are also differences based on the function of the lawyers. Nonetheless, I just cannot stop staring at this ensemble!


Have you seen Janet King? If so, what do you think of it? Do you plan to watch the second season when it becomes available? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!