Picnic at Hanging Rock’s same-sex shock
FOXTEL has turned up the homoerotic heat in their new adaptation of the classic novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, with a risque lesbian romance between an indigenous schoolgirl and her teacher, as well as same sex kisses between two other girls at the heart of the TV mystery.
The six-part reimagining of Joan Lindsay's classic 1967 novel - which streams in full from tonight - also expands on the gay relationship which develops between a rich suitor and a local farm hand, who bond during the search for the missing.
Adding to the intrigue surrounding the bold and dazzling literary adaptation is the discovery by a young student of what appears to be a Federation-era dildo - saucing up the storyline first brought to audiences in Peter Weir's 1975 feature film.
Starring Game Of Thrones favourite, Natalie Dormer in the lead role of Hester Appleyard, a "widow" reborn as the brutal headmistress of a strict ladies college in rural Australia, the extravagant $20 million Fremantle Media co-production leans heavily on the sexual undercurrents and themes of repression and social deviance.
Samara Weaving, who plays teenage heiress Irma Leopold openly explores her sexuality in a scene played out in universities and boarding schools the world over - kissing actor Lily Sullivan's character, Miranda Reid.
But it is the sexual tension between Madeleine Madden's character, Marion and her geography teacher, Miss Greta McGraw (played by House Husbands' Anna McGahan) which will likely shock older audiences.
Shamed by her preacher father, McGraw is banished from her home in Scotland for her "unnatural vice" only to find work and further temptation at the remote all-girls school.
McGahan has said the production tried to treat the relationship with modern sensitivity.
"It's still scandalous and it's still wrong [at that time], but we've tried to create this element of empathy with them to go 'why would these women find solace in each other?'"
Foxtel has form for breaking sexual boundaries on screen - first with the lesbian plot twists of its acclaimed prison drama, Wentworth; as well as braving more contemporary material like domestic violence in Big Little Lies, which starred Nicole Kidman as an abused wife, financially and psychologically bound to her damaged husband.
Picnic's reception internationally has already assured it a strong launch in the US next month, with broadcast deals set to see it air in the UK, France, Germany and New Zealand.
It is the first series Foxtel will release in full on its streaming platforms, Foxtel Now and Foxtel On Demand from 8.30pm tonight, when it also begins its linear run on showcase.