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AMAH is one of the five stories in new anthology series Motherhood (Photo: TVNZ)
AMAH is one of the five stories in new anthology series Motherhood (Photo: TVNZ)

Pop CultureMay 10, 2024

This new TVNZ anthology is Motherhood as you’ve never seen it before

AMAH is one of the five stories in new anthology series Motherhood (Photo: TVNZ)
AMAH is one of the five stories in new anthology series Motherhood (Photo: TVNZ)

Tara Ward previews a new local TV series offering alternative visions of motherhood.

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A woman is clambering up the side of her two-story house, clinging desperately to a drainpipe. Nearby, her child is perched on the edge of a window sill, refusing to listen to her mother’s instructions to go back inside. The perilous situation is every parent’s nightmare, made worse by the fact that on the other side of that window is a freaky robot nanny who has taken over the house. Can the woman trust the nanny with her child… and how long will that drainpipe hold?

This tense choice plays out in the futuristic thriller AMAH, one of five stories in new anthology series Motherhood, which drops on TVNZ+ this weekend. Motherhood is a collection of five short independent stories (each running about 22 minutes) inspired by the Māori, Pasifika, Pan-Asian and LGBTQIA+ communities of Aotearoa. Each episode tells its own unique story – there’s science fiction, rom-com, action and comedy – but they’re all joined together by the shared theme of motherhood.

It’s not often we see such creative storytelling like this on primetime, mainstream television, so kudos to TVNZ for screening Motherhoood. These five stories celebrate Aotearoa in a variety of vibrant and unexpected ways, but at the heart of each tale is the power of connection, the importance of whānau and community, and a strong sense of belonging. If you need an antithesis to the “traditional” idea of motherhood this Mother’s Day, look no further than this anthology series.

Here’s the lowdown on Motherhood – you can watch these episodes in any order.

Rule of Mum: a charming rom-com starring Jayden Daniels (Shortland Street, Celebrity Treasure Island) and Miriama Smith (Shortland Street, Celebrity Treasure Island). Daniels plays Tāne, a grown man living at home who has a suffocating relationship with his mother (Smith). When he falls for courier Hine (Marshayla Christie), Tāne has to overcome the biggest obstacle in his path to true love: his mum. Also features an all-too-short appearance from comedian Bubbah.

AMAH: If you’re a fan of Black Mirror, you’ll enjoy AMAH. Directed by Emmy-award nominated actress Michelle Ang (Fear the Walking Dead, Homegrown 3.0), this futuristic psychological thriller follows Leila (Dawn Cheong) as she enlists an Artificially Maternal Android Helper to help her juggle career and parenthood, and to help raise her child in accordance with traditional Malaysian-Chinese values. But what happens when the robot nanny gets power hungry? Lock your doors, ASAP.

Give Me Babies: We don’t see enough middle-aged mothers unleashing some hectic MMA hellfire on the telly these days, so thank goodness for Give Me Babies. When 20-something Ari (Roxie Mohebbi) decides she’d rather have an MMA career than find the perfect partner and have the perfect child, she enters an illegal underground fight and makes an enemy of the most dangerous man in town. When he tracks her down at her cousin’s wedding, chaos unfolds. David Correos and Sam Wang also feature.

Ahi and the Stars: I had a big old bawl at the end of Ahi and the Stars, which is an intriguing story about a boy who’s seeking answers about his mother’s disappearance. With the coming of Matariki and Hine-nui-te-Pō, all is revealed – and it won’t be what you’re expecting. Kura Forrester is wonderful here as Marama, and Moses Solomon plays the young Ahi.

Motherhood: A high energy story set before a vogue ball, when the newly crowned mother of a vogue house has to rely on the wisdom of her birth mother to help her get her adopted children ready for their runway debut. Starring Jessica Hunt-Auva’a, Ana Tuisila and Ata Tuiloma, this story is all about the power of belonging to your chosen family.

The Motherhood anthology screens on TVNZ 2 on Saturday 11 May at 7pm, and streams on TVNZ+.

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