Unlike its characters, who are knotted together in uncomfortable ways they allowed to take hold, Tangle is now free. The Australian drama, which was commissioned by Foxtel’s Showcase channel and ran for three seasons between 2009 and 2012, is now available on a free to air streaming service after a decade behind the commercial wall of pay TV and DVD box sets. It’s a timely transition, because via Tenplay the show is ripe for rediscovery.
There are certainly time capsule elements to the series, which was created by John Edwards, Imogen Banks and Fiona Seres. The flip phones, lack of social media intrusion, and the affluent inner-east Melbourne milieu of white Catholic families (one of the many tangles at play is the foliage along the banks of the Yarra River) all put a date on the setting. But the jagged pulse of the narrative, the way these deeply connected characters relate to and deceive each other, hasn’t lost a day’s specificity.
Tangle was loosely positioned as the final entry in a trilogy of John Edwards productions, the 40-something kicker to the 20-something hope of The Secret Life of Us and the 30-something struggle of Love My Way. It’s about coming to terms with the decisions you’ve already made, a process made clear from the first episode with the camera’s calm contemplation of characters separated from those around them, with lingering close-ups that capture the complex emotions just beneath their status quo surface.
The accelerant is Kat Stewart’s Nat Manning, who arrives back from a decade of minor celebrity in London to the wary welcome of her sister, Ally (Justine Clarke), and Ally’s husband, building contractor Vince (Ben Mendelsohn). Fickle and defiant, motivated in equal part by pleasure and self-protection, Nat has a 15-year-old son, Max (Blake Davis), who barely knows her, having been raised by his father, politician Tim Williams (Joel Tobeck) and stepmother Christine (Catherine McClements).