Making your TV viewing decisions easy

Review: Lessons to be Learned - The Principal on SBS

ReviewSteve Molk

Alex Dimitriades stars as Matt Bashir in SBS's outstanding series The Principal.
image - supplied/SBS

The problems at Boxdale Boys High School aren't new to Matt Bashir (Alex Dimitriades). He experienced similar when he attended as a student, but now as THE PRINCIPAL he has his work cut out for him.

He knows the pains of being he child of immigrant parents in Australia. The indirect segregation. The limited opportunity brought about by parents not being able to speak the language very well. The school fares little better.


The students clash regularly with teachers and each other, fracturing into gangs and cultural groups that antagonise each other endlessly. The staff are over-worked, under-resourced and spend more time on discipline than on teaching. The community have all but given up on Boxdale Boys as louts and troublemakers and the Police are regulars at the school for all the wrong reasons.

Why should the kids attempt anything when everyone else, including the system charged with helping and educating the, has seemingly given up on them?


image - supplied/SBS

Basher's driven belief in providing every student with an opportunity quickly sees him clash with just about everyone, but his persuasive confidence starts to help people believe in themselves again. Things are looking up. Boxdale Boys High is changing for the better.

Then, the morning after a very positive Parents & Friends meeting that rallies the community behind the school, a student is found dead on school grounds.

SBS have once again delivered an achingly brilliant drama series.

Joining Dimitriades in leading this incredible four part mini-series are Aden Young (Rectify) as Detective Adam Bilic and Mirrah Foulkes (Animal Kingdom) as Police Liaison Officer Kellie Norton - all working with (and against) each other to one end: finding out who is responsible for the murder at Boxdale Boys High.


A bunch of new young actors make their debut across the series (their performances are amazing - what a start to your showreel!), including Rahel Romahn as Tarek and Aliki Matangi as Sisi.

Director Kriv Stender (Red Dog) has captured the raw energy & angst in this uniquely Australian story, delivered by the amazing Ian Collie with Rachel Turk & Kristen Dunphy. The cast are as powerful as the script and it makes for an enveloping & engaging viewing experience.


Another day at Boxdale Boys High
Image - supplied/SBS

The Principal poses many difficult questions about family life, immigration, enculturation & fundamentalism - all hot topics and worthy of debate. The real art of this series is highlighting the struggle we all have in attempting to reconcile these pressures as a community.

Kudos to SBS for their commitment to quality Australian drama (free-to-air networks take note: this is how you do drama right). This Principal raises timeless issues that span borders yet are delivered with a strong and uniquely Australian voice and heart.


There are few series you will see in 2015 that are as confronting, challenging and satisfying.

The Principal is must watch television, with lessons for us all.

4-part series The Principal begins Wednesday 7th October at 8:30pm and continues Thursday on SBS.