Dragula, The Addams' Family meets Drag Race, is one of the hidden gems of TVNZ on Demand.

Five hidden gems tucked away on TVNZ Ondemand

Over the years, TVNZ’s Ondemand service has spat out some pretty weird offerings. Alex Casey brings us the best of whats hidden on the homegrown streaming service.

Who can forget the classic series I Can’t Stop Farting? The reality show about the perils of teaching women to drive? Whichever iteration of budgies, cats, kids or grandmas Make You Laugh Out Loud? Luckily, in more recent months there’s been a large intake of amazing online-only content, including excellent local webseries like Stake Out that might otherwise be lost to the ether. Their latest acquisition is OutTV, a Canadian channel for excellent and diverse content with an LGBTQI+ focus. I spent a couple of hours browsing and picked five of the best new hidden gems on offer.

The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula

If RuPaul’s Drag Race brought the art of drag to reality TV and the mainstream nearly 10 years ago, then The Boulet Brothers Dragula has taken it screaming down into the underworld. A competition to find the world’s next drag supermonster – a drag performer who can be represent “filth, horror and glamour” – Dragula talks a strut down the darker side of life. Featuring queens with names like Meatball and Ursula Major, Dragula is a much more lo-fi production that the neon pink of Drag Race, but isn’t afraid to push the boundaries. The contestants compete in everything from Fear Factor-style challenges to re-enacting death scenes, and it’s freaky fun right to the end.

Knock Knock Ghost

If you are tired of the po-faced hocus pocus of Sensing Murder and prefer your ghosts with a little bit of spunk, Knock Knock Ghost is the perfect show for you. The series follows comedian Richard Ryder, his very nervy assistant Brian Doyle and “renowned” psychic Jim Hunt on a hunt across Canada for proof of life after death. “I’m crying on the inside,” mutters Richard, as he cowers in the dark beneath a blanket, an alleged ghost crackling through the small transistor radio.

Exploring forts, castles and old manors, the ghost-hunter team encounter a tyranny of terror and react just like everyone else: scared shitless. Properly scary and properly funny, Knock Knock Ghost is the reality show for the people who laugh bravely at dumb scary movies but secretly sleep with a night light on.

Kitty 911

While prestige emergency show 9-1-1 rages on over at Three, I would argue there are almost no stakes higher than a bunch of stray kittens trapped in an abandoned mattress. As the cat debate rages on between reality stars and politicians, Kitty 911 follows the daily happenings in a volunteer shelter in Vancouver – one that is attempting to rehome and protect over 30,000 stray cats and kittens in the city. If the constant sound of mewing isn’t quite cute enough for you, Kitty 911 sounds like it is narrated by a six year-old on helium. Simply adorable.

Documentaries galore

OutTV also offers up a bevvy of fascinating and topical documentaries, covering everything from travel, to social issues, to a tell-all about testicles. The challenging crime documentary The Guy With the Knife examines the unlikely friendship between a gay rights activist and the convicted murderer of a gay man, filmed over the course of eight years and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Undercover Egypt follows an investigative journalist as she returns to Egypt 10 years after leaving for the UK. Keeping her identity a secret, she attempts to chart the progression of women and LGBTQI communities in a time of significant political upheaval. Another incredibly timely watch, although incredibly heavy viewing, is documentary series Sex & Violence. Here, we are invited to take a look inside the lives of sexual violence advocates and their fight for justice for those who have survived abuse and harassment. The cases are harrowing, but the conversation remains all too necessary.


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