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by Taj Bates
Most television shows are contrary to fine wine, they rarely get better with age.
But every now and again there are exceptions to this rule, wherein you discover a show that, with each passing season, just gets better and better and better.
Rake is one such show, an Australian export starring and co-created by the brilliant Richard Roxburgh.
The show is tailor-made by and for him, so much so that when Hollywood tried to replicate it for American audiences in 2014, with Greg Kinnear as the lead, it died a merciful one season death.
If you like legal dramas… charmingly F’d up characters… and watching badass women wielding power to such an extent that they leave grown men shivering in their wake, then you’ll love Rake.
The show is 4 seasons in and it follows the antics of Cleaver Greene, a Sydney barrister who is notorious for all the wrong reasons.
He defends the worst of the worst by day; snorts coke, plays board games with prostitutes, and dodges loan sharks by night… and day!
Yet, to the chagrin of his legal peers and foes, Cleaver has an astonishing winning streak, thanks to his brilliant, well-read mind and gift for oratory and theatrics.
Cleaver Greene is surrounded by an ensemble of family and friends who loathe him and hate to love him. But love him they do, despite the ever-expanding reasons why they should extricate him from their lives forever.
Because every blue moon, Cleaver shows that there is still a wee lil’ sliver of gold in that self-centered, self-destructive heart of his.
Rake is a fun, satirical glimpse into the inner workings of New South Wales’s legal and political systems, which are quite distinct from the American legal system as fictionalized in shows like Law & Order and How to Get Away With Murder.
Akin to How to Get Away With Murder, Rake is set in a hyperbolic world where corruption and bad apples far outweigh the good guys; yet justice is often served nice and cold… in the end.
Just as Law & Order gives viewers scenic and cultural glimpses of life in the upper and lower echelons of New York City, Rake does the same in the gorgeous, seaside metropolis of Sydney, Australia.
Yet, where Law & Order is grim, serious and procedural; Rake is a fun roller coaster ride of crazy town.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve laughed out loud watching this show ― especially Season 3, which is hilarious.
It’s refreshing to watch a smart and funny show where the characters and storylines evolve in surprising and delightful ways from one season to the next.
It’s akin to watching an orchestra crescendo.
Definitely looking forward to what they do in Season 5…
Rake is about love, madness, addiction and the law. Whilst Cleaver Greene’s ex-wife may call him unreliable; his son will thank him for being so indulgent.
To jurors he is hilarious; to judges an outrage; to a certain brothel owner a legend; and to his former cocaine dealer a tragic loss. Women like Cleaver. He has the usual prerequisites: looks, charm, brains and a sense of humour.
Criminal barrister Cleaver Greene is reckless, brilliant and self destructive… and that’s just his private life.