Aussie Jamie Durie tries to save the yard on FYI’s Outback Nation

Jamie Durie tries to save backyards from taking over on FYI's Outback Nation
Outback Nation (Photo: FYI)

Jamie Durie tries to save families from their encroaching backyards in the new FYI series Outback Nation.

Show

Outback Nation with Jamie Durie, premiering Monday night at 10pm on FYI.

Premise

Outdoor spaces expert and television presenter Jamie Durie swoops in to help families whose backyards are out of control. Within four days the problems with the yard are diagnosed, addressed, and the family may grow together as part of the experience. Shalalala.

Lineage

You will probably recognize Durie from his HGTV show The Outdoor Room or The Victory Garden on PBS. He is also one of Oprah Winfrey’s chosen experts, so his career is in pretty good shape. Outback Nation is produced for FYI, so it falls neatly into the networks upscale lifestyle demographic.

What Works

The first episode features a family in Florida whose backyard backs up to a canal, so they get occasional visits from alligators (as you do). The disarray of the yard oddly reminded me of Hoarders, as the participants survey the overwhelming nature of the situation. Granted, an over-abundance of kudzu isn’t toxic, but it still conveys the sense of how a problem can cascade very quickly if left unchecked.

Durie is an amiable host and doesn’t seem to strongarm the clients into his design ideas. There seems to be ample give-and-take between the clients and designer, so the end product becomes a common goal. Also, the clients are actively involved in the process throughout, which is always a plus on renovation shows.

What Doesn’t Work

This show, like almost every other program in the genre, has the artificial construct of “WE ONLY HAVE FOUR DAYS!!!!” because…because. Outback Nation does take the extra step of making it less artificial by having the clients in the first episode invite friends and family to a party scheduled for deadline day, but it still comes across as inorganic.

The other element that rings hollow is the show working on the theory that they are bringing families together. Unlike Hoarders where health and safety are a concern, or Bar Rescue or Extreme Makeover Home Edition where financial stresses place pressure on a family, it is difficult to buy the premise that an overgrown yard is tearing a family apart. I suppose there is the concern that the property values are diminishing, but that thinking comes across as too long-term when WE ONLY HAVE FOUR DAYS!!!!

Verdict

Overall, Outback Nation is a pleasant renovation hour, culminating with happy clients appreciating the fruits of their labor. It would be nice if the show had a little more information/instruction and a little less schmaltz, but ample use of a machete (oh yeah, Durie is all about the machete) cut through most of the treacle. Check this show out.

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About Mike McComb 631 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv