• Hugh Jackman in Viva Laughlin (Sony Pictures)Source: Sony Pictures
As with SBS On Demand's 'Youngers', these are shows where music plays a prominent role.
Jeremy Cassar

5 Aug 2016 - 2:24 PM  UPDATED 5 Aug 2016 - 2:27 PM

One of SBS On Demand’s latest finds is the British hip-hop-inspired coming-of-age drame Youngers, the story of two underprivileged lads looking to break into the big time. Dizzie Rascal-inspired raps litter the show’s first season, and the verses are well written and brilliantly performed.

To accompany this feast for the ear-holes, here are eight other shows that wouldn’t exist without music (except Glee).



After the widespread appeal of his previous show, The Wire, David Simon’s Treme attracted an instant audience - and then immediately lost most of it when viewers realised it was set after Hurricane Katrina and not during.

Those who stuck with the show learnt it had just as much to say about North American society as The Wire, spending time with those returning to their post-Katrina homes and exploring the still-beating heart of New Orleans: its music scene.


Flight of the Conchords

Boasting two creators and stars that just happen to write hilarious parody songs, Flight was clearly written around existing Conchords material (less so in season two).

In any other case that would seem like a bad idea, but the deadpan, off-kilter exchanges between Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie were funny enough to fill the spaces between songs.



After Friday Night Lights, I would have watched Connie Britton headline another remake of Melrose Place. In Nashville, the naturalistic actress shares the melodrama with the invincible cheerleader from Heroes, with their characters representative of the older and younger generations of country music.

I forced my eyes to endure the entire first season, and while I understand the show’s massive cult following, I’ve chosen to bide my time until Britton turns up in FNL2: Coach’s Revenge.



When Terence Winter, scribe of many of the greatest television episodes of all time (for The Sopranos) and showrunner of Boardwalk Empire, once again teams up with Martin Scorsese then forms a production trio with frickin’ Mick Jagger to create a HBO drama set in the music scene of the '70s, you’d think the result was in sure-thing territory.

But mixed reviews plagued the show’s first season, then Winter bailed on the show due to “creative differences”, and then it got cancelled.


Garfunkel and Oates

If you saw G&O, in which Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel) and Kate Micucci (Oates) do their musical thang, as a blatant rip-off of Flight of the Conchords, you’d be only half right.

Sure, the show is about a comedy-folk duo in a major US city. And the show is broken up by musical numbers and performances, but the songs are far less obscure, and often aim to make a (or several) point(s).

Also separating the two is the fact that both actresses are absolutely nothing like those dry Kiwis. 



The show may be long gone, but the Facebook group Don’t Cancel Smash is still alive. The Broadway-set nu-soap attracted such a specific audience (those who love it when dialogue is sung melodramatically), and some still refuse to let it go.

Starring American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee, and supported by Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston, the show steadily lost viewers and was cancelled after two seasons. I assume most of the show's potential audience were out at the actual theatre instead.



This UK comedy drama series starring Doctor Who’s David Tennant fared fairly well during its first six-episode season. Stories were told in part-dialogue and part-song and/or dance, usually making use of notable pop songs, a la Glee.

Unfortunately, sequel season Viva Blackpool was cancelled early due to low ratings, teaching future TV creators to veer away from this particular brand of musical comedy.


Viva Laughlin

Hugh Jackman was an executive producer and performer in the Blackpool-inspired Viva Laughlin, a disastrous musical comedy that was pulled from the air after three episodes.

While the first season of Blackpool had its moments of genuine musical fun, Viva Laughlin could very well have been assembled by Russell Crowe before he threw himself (and those ill-fitting pipes) into the Les Miserables waters.


Series 1 and 2 of Youngers are available on SBS On Demand. Watch the first episode right here: