‘Five Bedrooms’ moves in comfortably on NBC’s Peacock

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At first blush, the premise of “Five Bedrooms” might seem cloying — but I promise you this ensemble dramedy is anything but.

The eight-episode Australian series, which premiered last year on Network 10, has been renewed for a second season heading into its launch Thursday on Peacock, NBC’s new streaming network. It’s by turns charming, funny, serious and sensitive as it spins its narrative arc of five people at a wedding — seated at “the table behind the speakers” (aka “the singles table”) — who decide to buy a house and live together.

It’s a disparate group. There’s lawyer Elizabeth (Kat Stewart) and surgeon Harry (Roy Joseph), close friends both keeping secrets (hers involve work; he’s gay but won’t tell his smothering mother); Ben (Stephen Peacocke), who works in construction and has a rakish smile and an eye for the ladies; and Ainsley and Lachlan (Katie Robertson, Hugh Sheridan), who work together in a real estate office. She’s secretly in love with Lachlan, who uses her as his emotional and physical fallback — but only whenever his snippy wife, Melanie (Kate Jenkinson), kicks him out of the house, which seems to happen frequently.

It’s Ainsely who masterminds the purchase of the house; she’s been renting a “granny flat” for eight years from straight-talking Heather (Doris Younane), who’s married to the distracted Colin (Alan Dukes) and is exasperated with him and their two twentysomething layabout sons. Heather doesn’t like Lachlan and tells Ainsley it’s a mistake to move into a house with him while he’s separated from his wife, not to mention that she’ll be living with three other people she barely knows. Wise words.

There are the predictable problems with the house (plumbing issues, a disgusting pool) and with the housemates’ relationships once they move in and start experiencing each other’s foibles on a very personal level (bathroom habits, sloppiness, etc.) But “Five Bedrooms” quickly moves beyond all that and delves into unraveling their stories, including Heather, who’s a looming presence in Ainsley’s life and loves her like a daughter. Surprises are revealed, impacting the group’s living arrangements, and they start developing a surprisingly close bond with each other almost in spite of themselves — and their tenuous situation.

“Five Bedrooms” never feels trite or phony, thanks to the cast’s chemistry — they all seem to really like each other — and to the show’s understated writing style, by turns unpretentious and raw.  If viewers think they’ve got Ben, for instance, pegged as a shallow ladies’ man they’re in for a surprise, and much the same can be said for all of the main characters. Plot points develop organically — no hitting you over the head here — and it helps that each episode runs roughly 45 minutes without distracting commercial interruptions.

You’ll be glad you stopped by.

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