Review: The Principal, an Australian Series

Alex Dimitriades in The Principal

The Principal is a complex story about a mostly Muslim high school for boys in Sydney, Australia. Matt Bashir (Alex Dimitraides) is sent into the failing school as a new principal.

He proposes radical changes to the way the school is run and the way the boys are treated. The faculty and staff resist those changes at first, but eventually come round to his view of things when they see the results.

Mirrah Foulkes plays Kellie Norton, a police officer assigned to the school as a liaison officer.
Mirrah Foulkes plays Kellie Norton, a police officer assigned to the school as a liaison officer.

One of Bashir’s early converts is Kellie Norton, a police liaison officer. She wants to earn the boys trust and sees that Bashir’s way of working will accomplish that. She also volunteers to teach boxing at the school.

The boys in the school are almost all traumatized by war or violence in some way. Their families came to Australia to escape that violence, but they are in an unsettled neighborhood in Sydney with drug dealers operating in the school. Principal Bashir has issues of his own that he hasn’t dealt with, too. He went to high school in this school, and has a traumatic event in his past from that time.

The series only has 4 episodes. In episode 1, a student is murdered. By the end of episode 4, the killer has been found. Kellie Norton is crucial in finding the killer – she’s an excellent detective, but wants to continue working in the school instead of applying to be a detective. Along the way there are plenty of surprises and twists. The story has many important characters and a complicated path through them all.

The acting was outstanding, from students and adults alike. Rahel Romahn, who played the student Tarek Ahmad, deserves special mention.

The writers for the series were Alice Addison and Kristen Dunphy. They created an intense, highly charged world in the high school and filled it with interesting characters. The Principal is a new series, with release dates showing as 2015-2016. It’s currently available on Netflix in the US.

Thanks to @YouCan’tSeeMe for recommending this excellent series to me.

The Trailer

You can’t tell much from the trailer, except that this mystery series is tense and exciting.

If you watch The Principal, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.

10 thoughts on “Review: The Principal, an Australian Series”

  1. I really enjoyed this little series. It wasn’t your typical “To Sir with Love” script. The series had enough surprise twists that made me feel like I was watching something fresh and important. I loved the acting too. First rate actors and writers. Everyone should give this a look.

      1. The bold choice the writers took making the strong, handsome, manly male lead character gay was very surprising but done SO WELL. A typical show would have made the female cop who loves boxing be the gay character.

        If was such a refreshing show that dealt with import topics that I don’t see addressed in other programs. There are lots of movies and TV shows dealing with the race issues raised here but only when it pertains to adults. To put this show inside a school full of mostly immigrant Muslims and have the Aussies be in the minority, well that is new and very interesting to watch. And they didn’t demonize the Muslims.

      2. I was also struck by the vehement statement by Val (Deborah Kennedy) after she learned that Matt was gay when she said, “You’re gay, you’re not a pedophile.” She’d been his worst enemy up to then in terms of school discipline and behavior consequences, but she defended him on his sexuality.

        In terms of race issues, I thought the way the students treated the big Polynesian boy was telling. So many big, strong young men from the Pacific Islands are recruited to the US to play football. I wonder how much ill-treatment they endure here because they are ‘different’ like he was in this school?

      3. Your right about the way they treated the “island boy”. I also took it that he might have been from New Zealand. Its kinda like the way big black kids are thought to be natural football players and tall ones are natural basketball players. It just goes to show that there are racial stereotypes and prejudices involving everyone. No one is immune from this.

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  3. Acting and storyline was great but why is there the special highlight about Muslims or migrants from the Middle-East? There are hardly any Whites (students) featured other than Sisi’s girlfriend. Is that a common feature in so called “notorious” schools in Sydney?

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