Outrageous Fortune: Guilty Pleasure TV, New Zealand


Being a pop culture nerd leads me in very weird directions. When I was mourning the end of The Almighty Johnsons, a show I wrote about previously HERE, I thought I would check out the previous works of creators Rachel Lang and James Griffin. That is how I found Outrageous Fortune. When I realised it starred Antony Starr (currently wrapping up a 2nd awesome season on Banshee) in a dual role as twin brothers and Grant Bowler (True Blood) as his hoodlum father, I couldn’t resist! It ran for 107, 45 min episodes over 6 seasons (2005 – 2010) and was available on DVD as an import, so I thought I would take a chance. Before long, I was binge watching it.

Outrageous Fortune was a family dramedy that centred on the West family. The lot of them (Mom, Dad, Grandpa, twin adult sons and 2 teenage daughters) lived on the westside of Auckland, NZ. Their house was a gathering place for many colourful friends and neighbours, most of ill repute. When patriarch Wolf (Grant Bowler) was sent to prison for robbery at the beginning of the series, his wife decided that it was time the family went straight and divested itself of its criminal ways. She hoped that her children home would take after their brother Jethro (Antony Starr), who was just about to pass the bar and begin his professional life as a lawyer. But no such luck. Jethro’s dim but sweet twin brother Van (also Antony Starr) was not keen and sisters Pascalle (age 18) and Loretta (age 15) were too wrapped up in their own delusions of grandeur to take much notice of their well meaning mum, Cheryl (Robyn Malcolm).

Wow, the language and nudity that regular NZ TV gets away with is comparable to premium cable in North America. Definitely NSFW!!!! Not that I mind. This show quickly became a guilty pleasure. This show drew me in with its tale of family dysfunction on the wrong side of the tracks. Thematically, it was reminiscent of Shameless (US), which I am still enjoying.

Of course, after making my overseas purchase, someone uploaded many episodes to you tube. You can check out the pilot below. Warning again, NSFW.

The acting in Outrageous Fortune was really good, special mention going to Antony Starr who really pulled off 2 different characters convincingly.

OF VJ I forgot that he is the lead actor in a current favourite TV show, Banshee. Not since Michael C. Hall jumped from Six Feet Under to Dexter, have I been that impressed.  To add to the fun of this show there were many familiar faces from The Almighty Johnsons (TAJ). Shane Cortese OF HP had a recurring role and he was just as fun here as he was as Loki in TAJ. It was also nice to see Ben Barrington again (Olaf in TAJ) in a small part. The dialogue was funny if somewhat caustic and the character development was pretty good. I really liked the maturation of the sibling relationships and how they came through for one another when least expected. I enjoyed most the plot twists and betrayals that were surpirsing, yet inevitable. Towards the latter seasons, the plots became a bit too soapy for my tastes, but everything else was enough to carry me through to the finale. Ah yes, the finale. Frankly I didn’t care for the direction it went. But by then, I was happy to say good-bye. It was fun for most of its run and I won’t begrudge it a few missteps here and there.

This show was remade as Scroundrels for an American audience in 2010, it lasted for 8 episodes.


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