Secret City and micromarkets: the 'global noir audience' for Australian crime drama
The six-part Australian crime drama Secret City (Foxtel 2016) opens with two pre-credit sequences that establish an ambitious agenda. The first introduces a narrative that speaks to Australia's ongoing international political situation, while the second suggests a style and tone, not to mention a setting, clearly inflected by a recent wave of Scandinavian drama that somewhat contentiously has been labelled 'Nordic noir' (Hansen and Waade 2017; Hill and Turnbull 2016). Right from the start it is apparent that Secret City is a television series that attempts to be both culturally specific in terms of its content, while also embracing international aesthetic trends and a set of production values intended to appeal to a global audience. As Ross Crowley, Foxtel Australia's Director of Content Strategy and Programming confirmed, a show like Secret City is therefore expected to do well within the 'micromarket' that is the 'global noir audience' (Crowley 2017). The following analysis of the production context, the development and the aesthetic strategies of Secret City thus serves to illustrate how transnational flows in television, most recently from Northern Europe, have had a considerable impact on the production of television crime drama in Australia, as they have elsewhere, and how a television drama developed for a relatively small audience generates sufficient value to trigger the interest of broadcasters and government funding agencies.