Should I Watch It? While The Men Are Away, the sexy dramedy you won’t stop thinking about.

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While The Men Are Away delves into a unique chapter of Australia's history and promptly turns it on its head. It's resulted in a sexy new dramedy that's only sometimes historically accurate, but always entertaining.

Set in 1940s Australia in the midst of the Second World War, While The Men Are Away portrays a real moment in time when thousands of Australian men were sent overseas to fight in the war, resulting in the women who had been left behind stepping (sometimes willingly, sometimes not) into jobs historically seen as 'men's work'.

When it comes to what the women got up to while the men were at war, the writers of this tantalizing new series have allowed their imaginations to run wild. It's crafted characters and stories that range from fish-out-of-water narratives, women who give up city life to work on a farm, sexy and secretive relationships, plus all the hijinks that comes with keeping a business going. And all with a few untrustworthy men still lurking about. 

So, here's everything you need to know about the new SBS Original series you'll want to devour all in one sitting. 

Watch: Take a look at the trailer for While the Men Are Away, available to stream free now on SBS On Demand.

Video via YouTube

What is While the Men Are Away about?

The eight-episode series follows the glamorous yet cunning Frankie (played by Michela De Rossi from Many Saints of Newark and the lead in Netflix’s upcoming Italian epic Briganti) who's left to run a failing apple farm alone after her husband is sent away to the war.

(Or was he? As we quickly learn, Frankie is a woman of many secrets.)

With no men left to work on the farm for her, Frankie enlists members of the Women’s Land Army (a real organisation that existed during this time) to leave their sheltered home lives and dive into heavy work at the remote New South Wales location. 

The group consists of Gwen (played by Max McKenna from musicals Jagged Little Pill and the US Tour of Dear Evan Hanson) and Esther (played by Jana Zvedeniuk from Bump) who are fresh from the city and initially shocked by the less-than-fancy farm life they find themselves thrown into. 

Gwen, played by Max McKenna. Image: SBS Australia.


Come for the…

Humour, heart, and forbidden love stories that all come into play while the men are away.

The series reimagines what life for these women could have looked like during this time, boldly delving into stories that examine what it looks like when women are given a real taste of freedom and power for the first time. 

And then unwilling to give it back. 

The bonds between these characters are a joy to watch grow and their sexual exploits paint a vivid picture of the storylines and relationships that we don't always see played out on our screens.

The enigmatic Frankie cleverly uses her sexuality to wrap the few men left in town around her finger, all in a bid to keep her business running and her secrets carefully hidden. 

It's when Gwen then begins to fantasise about the beautiful Frankie, the audience is given a front-row seat to a group of women who can finally indulge in their true desires, and the results are truly entertaining TV. 


Frankie, played by Michela De Rossi. Image: SBS Australia.

Stay for the…

Incredibly talented cast and an interesting exploration into a real moment in time.

While The Men Are Away stars Phoebe Grainer, a Djungan woman from Far North Queensland who graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 2016 in her first TV series role.


The actress, who has previously starred in the stage productions of Tiddas and Black Cockatoo plays Kathleen, a local Indigenous farmhand working on Frankie's property who has her world turning upside down during the first episode. 

“Kathleen is a character who goes through a lot of adversity but she also has a lot of resilience,” Phoebe told Mamamia. “Her character very much came to me while we were filming, particularly in Orange in the many different locations where we filmed the series. 

“Kathleen looks after her brothers," she continued. "She's hard-working but also has the ability to code switch and she knows that's to her benefit. She really understands her position within the Aboriginal political and social climate. She's definitely somebody who would fight for it.

“During filming we had a lot of long conversations about the time period we were filming in and about the race element of the story as well. Which particularly helped me to find the character of Kathleen.

“I also talked to my grandparents, because this time period is not as far away from us as it might see," Phoebe explained. "So there were a lot of family conversations and I was able to talk to my grandmother about her mother’s experience, so my family history became a part of Kathleen’s story.

“It was such a wonderful filming experience for me and seeing these women form these friendships on screen makes it just a really beautiful show to watch. It’s such a unique story.”

Phoebe Granger on the set of While The Men Are Away. Image: SBS Australia.


So, should you watch it?

Absolutely. While The Men Are Away is a captivating, unique and (wildly) sexy piece of Australian storytelling with a truly talented cast. The kind of series you'll want to devour all in one sitting. 

All 8 episodes of SBS Original series While The Men Are Away are available to stream free now on SBS On Demand.

Feature Image: SBS Australia.

SBS On Demand
All 8 episodes of SBS Original While The Men Are Away are now available to stream free on SBS On Demand.