The first season of the Australian comedy is quite the fun watch
Last Updated: 12.39 PM, Apr 01, 2023
Story: Olivia Healy (Celeste Barber), an Australian food critic in New York, is on the cusp of landing a judging gig on a soon-to-be-launched prestigious cookery show. At nearly 40, Liv, as she is called, lives like a 20-something, including the hard-partying lifestyle and food habits. Life couldn’t get any better for her, until she decides to make a quick weekend trip back home to celebrate her best bud Amy’s(JJ Fong) birthday and has her green card stolen while Down Under. It’s only when she attempts to get a new green card to return ‘home’ that the horrors of her lifestyle begin to get the better of her. With the prospect of never being able to return to the US looming large, Liv has to turn over a new leaf, pronto, and get her health – both physical and mental – in order.
Review: Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a show/movie you chanced upon while aimlessly surfing Netflix for something to watch? Over the years, I’ve done a lot of such random watching, most of which I have regretted spending time and effort on, but persisted till the end for no particular reason. When a new show called Wellmania popped up, I expected it to be another one of those utterly forgettable watches, like the stuff Melissa McCarthy keeps churning out, but boy was I in for a surprise.
Wellmania is a breezy comedy about rediscovery for its nearly 40-year-old protagonist, Olivia (Liv) Healy. It’s a show about having women love their lives, but also showing some TLC to their bodies, which, with age, struggle to cope. It’s also about the struggle to maintain a work-life balance, with the latter often thrown to the kerb, in the pursuit of success. Here, faced with the prospect of missing out on her shot to stardom on a food reality show, Liv whose health parameters are shockingly all over the place, has to restore balance in her body, for a chance to get a new green card. Slow and steady isn’t her go-to, as she embarks on absurd cleanses and diets, only to fall off the wagon every now and then.
The physical, though, is not her only problem. Liv can’t wait to get away from her mother and brother, even though the latter’s wedding is around the corner. She’s got some demons to deal with stemming from a personal tragedy. And so, it turns out that it’s not only her vitals that are a problem, she, as a person is. She’s selfish and not exactly a ray of sunshine, and leaves her near-and-dear ones miserable in the wake of her. As much as Wellmania is about Liv’s pursuit of health, it is also an exploration of her relationships with Amy, her mum Loraine and brother Gaz. But is there still redemption for her?
Inspired by the book Wellmania: Misadventures in the Search for Wellness, written by Brigid Delaney, who also serves as co-creator of the show, Wellmania is not perfect and may even seem predictable, but it is fun watch, making some impactful statements, while breezing past others. Could it have been better? Of course, but for the most part it works just right and that’s good enough.
Verdict: Celeste Barber love-me-one-moment-hate-me-the-next in repeat mode take on Liv Healy is quite interesting. The show is not roll-on-the-floor hilarious, but it is fun nevertheless. Give it a try.