The Straits is a ground breaking Australian crime drama in terms of its rare setting and (specific) concept - the deadly smuggling trade between northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. It explores how the business of the modern, Western crime syndicates effects those around them - from the city-slickers in Cairns, to the traditional Torres Strait Islands, to the tribes people in the developing nation of PNG.
The series covers the Montebello crime family's struggle for power - both against other crime entrepreneurs, and amongst themselves. It begins with the head of the family, Harry Montebello, allowing his three sons to compete to succeed him as head of his business. It is character driven and extremely well written, and features an exceedingly rare setting worth a look for its beauty as well as its novelty.
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels: The main Australian criminal franchise that supplies drugs to the Montebellos.
- Anyone Can Die: Downplayed. All of the main characters (except for Lola) survive until the end of the series, but various recurring characters bite it along the way.
- Axe-Crazy: The Papuan avenging his brother just stabs and shoots and does not stop in his quest to kill Gary.
- Black and Grey Morality: Criminals vs worse criminals.
- Black Humour: Pretty much the only kind this series had, although while understated, it is certainly effective.
- The Don: Harry Montebello is the ruler of the Montebello Family and oversees all of their smuggling operations.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Regardless of all the horrible crimes they commit, everyone in the Montebello family loves each other dearly and will do anything to ensure their well-being.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Harry is AOK at drug-dealing and creative murder, but draws the line at arranged marriage for his daughter, and dealing in sex-slaves.
- Evil Matriarch: Kitty Montebello, Harry's wife who is just as heinous as he is, and will do anything to keep their smuggling operations intact.
- Family Values Villain: Harry has these tendencies.
- Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: Torres Strait Islander family crime syndicate (although Harry is Maltese-British-Australian, his wife and children (all adopted) are of the same ethnicity).
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Noel Montebello's biggest flaw.
- Pet the Dog: Harry really genuinely cares about his daughter, which makes him seem less of a bastard. He also really cares about his actual little dog.
- Precision F-Strike: Mostly delivered by Harry.
- Sacrificial Lion: Lola, who's killed by Marou in Episode 8 after the Montebello family finds out she tried to kill Harry. Said death results in Marou seriously considering killing his brother Gary, who had an affair with her.
- Scenery Porn: The Torres Strait, as depicted on the show, is beautiful (if dangerous), which can be seen clearly in the opener.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Harry appears to see his sons this way.
- The Triads and the Tongs: the main business partner of the protagonists in only known as 'The Chinaman', and has links with a shady syndicate of drug dealing and prostitution including other Chinese-ethnicity partners (such as his Taiwanese cousin), although his underlings in Papua New Guinea are all natives.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Real life experiences of the author, as well as news stories, were the basis of the drama.
- Villain Protagonist: Harry is a cold-blooded killer with vague similarities to a Bond Villain. He's basically the main character.
- Wham Episode:
- Episode 3: After Harry finds out Paddy has been stealing money from his empire, he kills him. Sissi finds out about Paddy's murder and tells Harry that she knows about his affair, and contemplates leaving the family. As Harry buys an anniversary gift for Kitty, a hitman appears and shoots him several times, seemingly killing him.
- Episode 8: Lola tries to kill Harry after she shoves him down the stairs during a heated argument. Sissi finds video footage of what she did, and later tells everyone in the family. Marou and Lola go on the run together, but after much contemplation, Marou tearfully forces himself to go through with murdering Lola.