“This Mardi Gras is a little bit history making,” says vivacious entertainer Courtney Act, one of the hosts of this year’s event, “and to celebrate I thought I would pop together a bit of a playlist of some of my favourite TV shows. Mardi Gras is all about diversity and acceptance and inclusion and that’s the theme of these shows that I’ve picked for you.”
Proving nothing – not even a pandemic – is going to rain on this parade, Mardi Gras has found a temporary new home in 2021, the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground, to ensure the safety of participants, spectators and the community at large.
As the official broadcast partner, SBS is proud to bring to life the colour and magic of the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras live and exclusive on Saturday March 6, and Courtney Act will be one of the four fab hosts, alongside comedy superstar Joel Creasey, Network 10 Presenter Narelda Jacobs and stand-up genius Zoë Coombs Marr.
To mark the occasion, Country Act has guest curated a special collection of shows she loves at SBS On Demand.
“I have put together a little bit of a list of some of my favourites TV shows that are all available on SBS On Demand. Now there’s some fun ones, there’s some sad ones, lots of diversity, lots of messages of acceptance – much like Mardi Gras itself. So like I always say, sit back, relax, use lots of lube and enjoy the show!”
Proving yet again she’s never predictable, Courtney Act’s collection ranges from the sharp drama of Why Women Kill and the clever game show Faboriginal to LGBTQ travel show Gaycation.
Here’s what you can find in the ‘Courtney Act Guest Curates’ collection, which will be streaming at SBS On Demand from 25 February (find her selection and more Mardi Gras content, including SBS On Demand’s Rainbow Pride collection of movies, in SBS On Demand's Mardi Gras 2021 collection.).
This documentary/reality series explores the glittering, beautiful LGBTQI+ sub-culture of ball, or ballroom. More than 20 years after the documentary Paris Is Burning brought it to the screen, ball continues to usher in a new generation of legends, statements and stars. Precious Ebony, one of the stars of My House, says in a great vibe.com article about the show that the ballroom scene has given her a lot. “I had to learn how to be more comfortable in my own skin. I had to learn how to accept myself. You can’t expect other people to accept you if you don’t accept yourself wholeheartedly,” Precious explains.
My House is streaming now at SBS On Demand.
“It’s hosted by the delightful, the amazing, the glorious Steven Oliver and features a cast of amazing Indigenous comedians and performers and talented, wonderful, beautiful people and it’s all filmed in the New South Wales Art Gallery. So go check it out!,” Act says of this unique game show, which tests celebrity contestants' knowledge of Indigenous art, while delivering a fun mix of trivia, facts and laughs.
Season 1 of Faboriginal is streaming now at SBS On Demand.
In this Australian-made comedy-drama, two best friends reinvent themselves after chronic illness changes their friendship, their futures and... their public hair. It all starts when TV presenter Michelle discovers she has alopecia and flees back to Brisbane to her best friend Chloë. Chloë tries to enlist her help in ticking items off her ‘reverse bucket list’, now that her chemotherapy’s finished. The seven-part series was inspired by the real-life experiences of co-writers Michelle Law (who also plays lead character Michelle Low in the series) and Chloë Reeson.
Homecoming Queens is streaming now at SBS On Demand.
Actor Elliot Page (Juno, Inception) and their best friend, Ian Daniel, set off on a journey to explore LGBTQI cultures around the world, from India to France and through America's deep south. There's a lot to explore here - Act tips the Japan episode as a favourite. And in addition to the series, there's also Gaycation: United We Stand, a Gaycation special where Page and Daniel head to Washington DC for the Women's March.
Gaycation is streaming now at SBS On Demand. Start with a journey to Japan:
Years and Years
"One of my favourites is Years And Years," Courtney Act tells us. "It stars Emma Thompson and Russell Tovey (he’s a bit dishy!). It’s set in Manchester and the thing that I love about it is it’s dystopian with a twist. It starts off today, as the world is, and then every episode jumps forward a few years so you really get to see that slide into the dystopian future that’s probably not too far off if we don’t smarten up.”
This thought-provoking documentary series take viewers on a journey into some of Australia's many unique communities, and provides a glimpse the varied ways of life we live across the land, from the Secret Life of Death to Outback Rabbis. Country Town Pride follows the inspirational story of Holly Conroy, a transgender woman from country NSW, as she bids to stage a Mardi Gras in her home town of Wagga Wagga, while Bowled Over tells how an eclectic troupe of drag queens rescued North Ipswich Bowls Club from financial ruin, thanks largely to the spectacular success of the monthly drag show, Taboo.
The Family Law
Based on the best-selling book by Benjamin Law, The Family Law is a drama-comedy series following everyone's favourite almost-functional Asian Australian family. Rotating around the lightly fictionalised Benjamin, the show is about growing pains and finding your place in the world. “What’s that old quote? If you’re going to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you," Law told SBS of a guiding principle he used to tell the story of growing up gay in a big Asian-Australian family in Queensland. It's funny, touching, awkward, clever, diverse, daggy and delightful, and so much more.
Based on Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, the memoir from Lindy West, Shrill tells the story of Annie, a young woman who wants to change her life, not her body. Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live, Girls) plays Annie as she deals with unreliable boyfriends, sick parents and a perfectionist boss. It's a great reminder of body positivity, but it's about so much more, too.
Shrill is streaming now at SBS On Demand.
Why Women Kill
One house, three women, murder, wit and retro fashion ... in Why Women Kill, Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry has created a twisty, camp, clever series. The three storylines weave together 1963, where Beth Ann (Ginnifer Goodwin) discovers her aerospace engineer husband is cheating on her; 1984, where we meet socialite Lucy Lui (oh, and doesn't she rock '80s fashion!); and 2019, where Taylor (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), a bisexual lawyer who has an open marriage, decides to bring a third party into the house. This is about much more than why a woman might be driven to murder though; it's about each of them finding a way to deal with the social constraints of their time.
Why Women Kill is streaming now at SBS On Demand.
Visit sbs.com.au/mardigras for more on how to celebrate the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with SBS and NITV this year, incuding broadcast details. This year's theme is RISE - find out more about the Mardi Gras program, which runs 19 February to 7 March, at mardigras.org.au.
And catch up with Courtney Act in this interview with SBS Voices: