8 reasons why Neighbours is nailing it right now, from Dee Bliss dramas to Erinsborough newbies

When so much attention is lavished on the bigger soaps, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the daytime dramas are more than capable of rivalling them in terms of quality.

Mixing great character-led drama, dramatic storylines and classic comedy, Neighbours really has been on fine form in recent months. With big plots like the Dee mystery ongoing and Finn still on the loose, it doesn’t seem to be losing steam any time soon.

So, let’s take a look at how Neighbours has been nailing it in 2018.

1. New cast additions

When Neighbours lost fan favourites like Tyler and Paige this year, viewers were a little concerned about how they’d be replaced. Luckily the new additions have been a major hit with us.

Chloe’s bubbly, fun personality is a joy to watch and Bea has really livened up the lives of the Kennedy-Conways. Then there’s the mysterious Cassius who has provided lots of comedy, but we reckon has got many more secrets up his sleeve – and we can’t wait to find out what.

With fan favourite Ned finally joining permanently and great recurring cast like Willow and Clive never far away, Erinsborough feels bigger than ever before.

2. To Dee or not to Dee

It may have started over 18 months ago, but we are still no closer to getting to the bottom of the ongoing Dee mystery – and we’re loving every minute.

The story has returned to the forefront with rampant speculation that the woman we currently think is Andrea could possibly be the real Dee. Whether she is or isn’t, it’s still a fantastic watch. Eve Morey (Sonya) and Ryan Moloney (Toadie) bring their A-game, and Madeleine West (Andrea/Dee) is a scene-stealer – even without dialogue.

While the story does have an expiration date, we certainly can’t wait to see where it’s all headed and we’re still firmly #TeamRealDee.

3. Finn’s return

While guest villains come and go, the return of evil Finn Kelly has worked due to the show’s decision to flesh out the character. The plot may be high camp, but because Finn isn’t just another boring 2D villain (looking at you, Dimato), he’s much more enjoyable to watch.

Even better is his impact on the Kennedy-Conway family. It’s brought Karl and Susan back to the forefront, provided a great introduction for Bea and cemented Elly’s leading lady status. By focusing on the emotional bonds between the women, Neighbours avoided the pitfalls of a cliché revenge plot and with Liz’s arrival continuing to ruffle feathers, we can’t wait to see what the future holds.

4. Daaron

It may have taken Neighbours a little longer than its UK counterparts for some proper LGBTQ+ representation, but no-one can deny it’s flying its Pride flag high in 2018.

Few could’ve guessed how charming the pairing of David and Aaron would turn out to be. Takaya Honda and Matt Wilson share a natural chemistry that made us really root for the couple despite their setbacks. The much-awaited Daaron wedding is shaping up to be one of the soap events of the year, and it’s fantastic for Neighbours to air such an important milestone in Australian television.

What’s even better is how Neighbours depicts their relationship. No longer does the show shy away from on-screen affection between the characters. They’re treated just like a heterosexual pairing – exactly as it should be.

5. Bringing back the supercouples

Speaking of couples, all great soaps need pairings to invest in, and in the last few years Neighbours have been mixing them up with far too much regularity. That’s all changed lately with the focus on creating couples we can care about.

As well as Daaron, Mark and Elly seem destined to become a couple at last, hopefully ending the merry-go-round of short-term relationships Mark has been on since he returned. There’s Sheila and Clive for some older representation – and it’s nice to see Sheila date a man who isn’t a villain!

Above all else, there’s Paul and Terese: the slowest burn in all of soap. While they’re no closer to officially getting together, Neighbours continues to tease us and we’re still hoping the show bites the bullet and gives them a shot at happiness.

6. Balancing the tone

2018 was the year the show officially went PG in Australia. Free from the G-rating restriction which has held Neighbours back for years, it has thrived.

Neighbours has never been the edgiest soap, but by sticking so rigidly to such a limited rating, the show was living in the past. By being PG, stories can be explored with more depth and without relying on euphemisms. Plots such as Bea’s emotional abuse and the racism Yashvi faced have greatly benefited from this new freedom.

It’s not all darkness though, as comedy hasn’t been forgotten. The show has provided plenty of laughs in recent months due to characters like Dipi, Sheila and Xanthe. Dare we say it, Neighbours has found the perfect blend.

7. A glossy new look

While the classic wobbly sets and dodgy lighting of the Aussie soaps aren’t without their charm, when mixed with last year’s divisive opening titles, it’s fair to say Neighbours looked and felt a little dated.

However, in recent months the show has had a major facelift. The fresh set of titles manage to capture that classic Neighbours look but with a modern twist – and ditching the dodgy green screen. The show itself looks bright and inviting due to brand new cameras, lighting and production techniques.

With the promise of more new sets to come, and increased location shooting, Neighbours has finally arrived in 2018 and never looked better.

8. History lessons

One of the best aspects of soap opera is the years of history that can be called on to impact the present day – and this is one of Neighbours‘ greatest strengths.

Rather than shy away from their past in fear that newer viewers may feel alienated, Neighbours uses its history to wonderful effect. Not only do we have the continuing Dee saga going on, reintroducing Clive was a fun blast from the past – but his sweet relationship with Sheila ensured that his return was more than just nostalgia.

With characters such as Lauren and Sindi popping in and out, it’s a fun treat for fans, but also brings drama and proves that characters don’t have to be forgotten the moment they leave.

Neighbours airs on weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5.

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