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Wakefield - What We Know So Far

When it comes to TV and cinematic portrayals, psychiatric hospitals are often depicted as the settings of horror stories, perhaps due to their history as places of serious abuse of mental health patients. However, the 2021 series "Wakefield — not to be confused with Bryan Cranston's unrelated 2016 movie of the same name — takes this setting and runs with it in a different direction.

The Australian mini-series charts the previously quite stable nurse Nik Katira's (Rudi Dharmalingam) spiral into his own mysterious trauma, triggered by a song, even as his patients are getting better around him. "Wakefield" walks the line between drama and comedy, sanity and madness, all while unraveling the psychological mystery at the heart of it.

"Wakefield" aired in Australia earlier this year, after a delay caused by the pandemic, but is making its way to the United States via Showtime this Fall. Here's everything we know about it.

When is the Wakefield release date?

While "Wakefield" has already been released for Australian audiences, it's coming to American audiences on Monday, October 18 at 9 PM eastern on Showtime. The series consists of eight hour-long episodes.

Like many series this year, it wasn't the easiest road to production for "Wakefield." The cast and crew began filming in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia in January 2020. They got three episodes in before the pandemic shut down production, and they didn't start again until July. However, showrunners Kristen Dunphy ("East West 101," "The Straits") and Sam Meikle ("Home and Away," "Out of the Blue") told Screen Australia podcast that this break ended up giving them time to edit the first three episodes and discuss how they might adjust the rest of the season.

For lead actor Rudi Dharmalingam, the 14-day quarantine before filming actually helped him tap into a feeling of isolation that related to his character. "[A]s the series progresses, Nik becomes more and more isolated and more and more alone ... Having that lack of human contact was really helpful, I think. It was kind of perfect preparation," he said to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Who is in the cast of Wakefield?

British actor Rudi Dharmalingam, who's known for the British legal drama "The Split," plays the lead role, the exceptional nurse Nik Katira, according to Deadline. "I'm always attracted to deeply layered and textured characters that require a detailed analysis of character," Dharmalingam said to Blue Mountains Gazette. "If the prospect of finding truth in a character that has a difficult journey then it's immediately a role I want to embody. There were lots of similarities with my own trajectory through life so it had a deep resonance within me." He called Nik's journey "deeply complex."

Alongside Dharmalingam is an ensemble made up of other hospital staff and the patients residing there. Mandy McElhinney ("Bad Mothers") plays his hated boss, Linda, while Geraldine Hakewill ("Ms Fisher's Modern Murder Mysteries") plays Kareena, the head psychiatrist and Nik's ex. Meanwhile, some of the patients are businessman James, played by Dan Wyllie ("Love My Way"), and romantic Trevor, played by Harry Greenwood ("Gallipoli"), according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

What is the plot of Wakefield?

While "Wakefield" does each episode through a different character's perspective, the main storyline is about nurse Nik Katira slowly losing his mind to the tune of "Come on Eileen" and his resurfacing childhood trauma. "It starts to produce shards of memory that are just poking into the present," co-showrunner Sam Meikle said to Screen Australia. "And so we have this dynamic that unfolds across the eight episodes where as he's getting worse, the patients that he's dealing with are getting better. And across the eight episodes, it's a psychological mystery: what is at the heart of this man's trauma?"

However, "Wakefield" is not pure misery. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, co-showrunner and creator Kristen Dunphy said they grappled with the tone: "If it's too bleak or too dark, no one's going to want to watch it. And if it's too comic, then it's not PC and we're making fun of these people." She drew on her own experience of being in a psychiatric hospital for the series.

Lead Rudi Dharmalingam told the Blue Mountains Gazette that the series will "make you laugh, It'll make you cry, It'll draw you into a world relatively unseen on screen. The need to solve the puzzle should keep you all there until the final moment."