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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Safe Harbour is an adult-oriented drama inspired by Australia's (and the world's) ongoing refugee crisis. The consequences of helping (or not helping) asylum seekers is central to the series, and the death of a child plays a major role. There's also some cursing (including "f--k"), drinking, smoking, and sexual innuendo. Social media outlets like Instagram and Facebook are shown or referenced. Older teens should be able to handle it, but given the subject matter, chances are that most of them won't be clamoring to see it. However, those wishing to learn more about the refugee experience could learn something from this series.
The rescued turn on the rescuers
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What's the Story?
SAFE HARBOUR is a dramatic Australian miniseries about what happens when a group of people unexpectedly come face to face with a refugee crisis. Brisbane yacht owner Ryan Gallagher (Ewen Leslie), his wife, Bree (Leeanna Walsman), his sister, Olivia (Phoebe Tonkin), her partner, Damien (Joel Jackson), and friend Helen (Jacqueline McKenzie) are sailing in Indonesian waters when they come upon a stranded boat full of desperate asylum seekers trying to get to Australia. The group must decide whether to call Indonesian authorities, thus putting the refugees at risk of getting sent back, or to help them get to Australian waters, which potentially puts them at risk. What transpires during the course of that night isn't clear, but the long-term consequences of their actions are both complicated and tragic.
Is It Any Good?
Relevant and insightful, this tense series explores the complex feelings people have about the plight of refugees. The story, much of which is told through a series of flashbacks, is told from the point of view of Ryan Gallagher and the other Australians, whose lives were markedly changed after the event. But it is also told from the point of view of Iranian refugee Ismail Al-Biyati (played by Hazem Shammas) and his family, who survived the boat trip and made it to Australia, but at a horrific cost. As the narrative seamlessly swings back and forth from past to present, each side reveals its version of what happened, and who they think is to blame for the things that went wrong.
It's a work of fiction, and one that leaves viewers with many unanswered questions. But Safe Harbour successfully offers some strong social commentary about Australians' real attitudes toward the refugees coming to their borders. However, it's easy to parallel the attitudes being underscored with those of other Western countries, and acknowledge the underlying bigotry that serves as the motivation to turn one's back on non-Caucasian or Muslim asylum seekers. As a result, while it's an excellent series, it may force some viewers to face difficult truths.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the status of refugees around the world. What are some of the different reasons people leave their homelands to seek refuge in a foreign country?
What are some of the stereotypes that exist about refugees around the world? How has the media perpetuated these generalizations? How much do these stereotypes impact the ability of an asylum seeker to receive sanctuary in the United States?
Safe Harbour is an Australian show, and addresses refugee-related issues in that country. If it had been produced in the United States, would refugees be portrayed any differently? How?
- Premiere date: March 7, 2018
- Cast: Ewen Leslie, Hazem Shammas, Leeanna Walsman
- Network: Hulu
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: March 11, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
The Good Lie
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Faith-based drama has pro-refugee message.
Miss Kiet's Children
Poignant docu about Dutch teacher's refugee students.
Powerful, violent movie about three Sri Lankan refugees.
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