Safe Home review: Australian mini-series targets family violence

Aisha Dee in Safe Home

Safe Home takes you into the world of violence and abuse in family relationships. In four episodes, there are several examples of the kinds of issues faced by people in violent situations. None of the stories are finished. It’s a sampler, a series of vignettes, intended to show you that violence can happen to anyone at any time.

Safe Home stars an excellent Aisha Dee. She’s been working in a law office as a communications officer. It’s not a good environment for women there. She changes jobs and goes to work for a domestic violence shelter. The shelter is in danger of losing funding. Phoebe’s job will be to make the need known and convince the government to keep funding the work.

Virginia Gay in Safe Home
Eve is the boss
Mabel Li in Safe Home
Jenny is the lawyer

Phoebe (Aisha Dee) works with the shelter CEO, Eve (Virginia Gay), and one of the lawyers who help people get protection orders, Jenny (Mabel Li).

While Phoebe was still working in the law office, she had a romance with Julian (Thomas Cocquerel). He was married to Grace (Antonia Prebble). In the first couple of episodes Antonia Prebble was hardly on the screen. I began to wonder why an actress of her caliber was even in this mini-series. We find out before the end in a dramatic way.

Katlyn Wong in Safe Home
Tegan Stimson in Safe Home
Janet Andrewartha in Safe Home

Here’s a sample of the women they helped at the center. Cherry (Katlyn Wong) spoke only Mandarin. She had two children. Her husband Kelvin (Yuchen Wang) was her abuser. Ry (Tegan Stimson) was very young. She was physically abused by her mother and emotionally abused by her boss (Nicholas Burton). Diana (Janet Andrewartha) was a grandmother. Her husband Jon (Mark Mitchinson) was her abuser.

The women were hampered by lack of English, lack of money, lack of transportation, lack of a place to stay. The system was designed to protect and believe the men involved over the women. When Phoebe commented to Jenny that the system was broken, her answer was, “The system works as it was designed.”

Phoebe and the others at the center got very emotionally involved in their cases. Phoebe was dealing with her problematic romance with Julian, too. I found the emotional reactions of the various women working on the cases to be a bit much. You’d think they’d develop a thick skin but they burned out fast and there were as many tears among the women at the center as there were among the women they were striving to serve.

The story was told in nonlinear ways, with flashes of past violence and glimpses of future situations. It was a kind of shorthand way to share the types of problems facing the women and tempt you to continue with suggestive hints of something bad coming to Phoebe.

The messages were simple. It’s hard to spot an abuser at first. It’s not easy to leave an abuser. Anyone can be caught in an abusive situation no matter their station in life.

The series, now on Hulu, is all women behind the scenes. It was directed by Stevie Cruz-Martin and created by Anna Barnes with an all-women writers room.

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