SundanceTV’s ‘Rosehaven’: Even More Remote Than Australia Is a Little Island Off Its Coast

Quirky comedy finds laughs in a rural corner of Tasmania

Australian comedy Rosehaven, starring comedians Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola, debuts on SundanceTV Sept. 27. Maybe calling it an Australian comedy isn’t completely accurate. It’s set on Tasmania, an island 150 miles off the southern coast of the Australian mainland, and McGregor, who grew up there, says Tasmania is very much its own thing.  

“People don’t refer to it as Australia,” says McGregor.

Rosehaven, named for the fictional town in which it is set, represents SundanceTV’s first foray into comedy series. McGregor, who left for Melbourne at 25 because of its larger comedy scene,  plays a guy who returns to his rural Tasmanian hometown to help his mother with her real estate business. A short while later, his best friend from the mainland, played by Pacquola, turns up after her honeymoon is cut short when her husband punts on the marriage.

McGregor likens the show to Parks & Recreation for “the fun the characters seem to be having together.” Pacquola mentions among its influences Gavin & Stacey, the British comedy that James Corden wrote and had a role in, because of the friendly rapport between the characters.

I asked the pair if there was concern that an Aussie strain of humor might not connect with an American audience. “At its core it’s friends and silliness,” says Pacquola. “You guys have those.”

Australian humor, she adds is self-deprecation at its core. “The joke is always on us,” she says. “We like to be underdogs.”

McGregor will make his first visit to the States for the New York Television Festival, which starts October 23. Pacquolo will be here too; the pair will sit on a "Meet the Creators" panel Oct. 25. She visited the U.S. with her mother when she was 19, and was dismayed to learn that the drinking age was 21. “I’d been a full year legal [back in Australia],” she says.

It’s a tasty double bill on SundanceTV Wednesday, with Liar, starring Joanne Froggatt of Downton Abbey as a schoolteacher who has a hot date with the parent of a student, it all ends up horribly wrong, and someone is lying. That leads into a couple of episodes of Rosehaven starting at 11.

The Rosehaven creators say the support from Tasmanians for the show has been considerable. They describe Tasmania, which Pacquolo likens to a little soul patch on the face of Australia, as a scenic little place. “You point the camera in any direction and find rolling hills,” says McGregor. “You could film a low budget Lord of the Rings there.”