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Series / Wakefield

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There's a fine line between sanity and madness

Wakefield is an Australian psychological mystery series set in the ward of a psychiatric hospital in the Blue Mountains. At the centre of the story is Nikhil "Nik" Katira (Rudi Dharmalingam), a compassionate and dedicated psychiatric nurse at the Wakefield psychiatric hospital. As he strives to do the best by the patients there, his own mental wellbeing is disturbed by the resurfacing of a long-forgotten trauma.


Wakefield contains examples of:

  • All Love Is Unrequited: Collette is attracted to Nik, who is still in love with his ex-fiancé, who is married to someone else.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Nik's dad at times, who gets his son's help to fill out a long online dating form — including sex questions.
  • An Aesop: Just because someone is ill doesn't mean they get to hurt you. Nik and the other doctors and nurses have to remind their patients' loved ones that while the patients at Wakefield aren't always in control of their actions, it doesn't mean their partners and family members are obligated to endure violence or verbal abuse from them.
  • Bad Boss: Linda, who only makes any attempt to get on with the other staff when she is told doing so will improve her chances of staying on as Head Nurse. She even throws Nik under the bus to the incident investigators after he stands between her and an angry patient.
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  • Bait-and-Switch: After having been congratulated for being ready to leave the hospital, Ivy is shown being told by a woman that the doctors have changed their mind and she isn't ready, only for Nik to walk in and point out to the woman (Cath) that she isn't actually an employee, but a patient.
  • Bedlam House: Averted Trope, although it's implied many of Nik's family members picture Wakefield like this. His father in particular calls it "the funny farm", despite Nik telling him not to.
  • Creepy Cockroach: A recurring image in episode two.
  • Daydream Surprise: Played With and discussed. Many of the patients have intrusive thoughts and hallucinations — early in one episode, Ivy has a moment where she had an Imagine Spot of a passerby cutting her, only for the memory to be replayed and shows her walking away without incident. The effect is such that when another character is later shown smashing in a car's windscreen with a crowbar, much of the audience will assume it too is a daydream — until the police show up at her work and show the security tapes of her doing just that.
    Nik: We all have scary thoughts. The trick is not to let them control you.
  • Death of a Child: The death of Nik's younger brother Dilshan when they were kids haunts the family.
  • Driven to Suicide / Bungled Suicide / Interrupted Suicide: Being set in a psychiatric hospital, a lot of the patients were brought in due to making attempts on their lives. Notably James, who claims to his son that an accidental overdose has him Mistaken for Suicidal later attempts suicide after discharging himself to seal a business deal that falls through.
  • Dr. Psych Patient: Cath is a downplayed version — it seems that she thinks she should be in charge, but doesn't actually claim any medical qualifications.
  • Ear Worm: A central element of the show — and Nik's deteriorating mental health — is the song "Come On, Eileen", which is frequently played by a patient (Trevor) and gets stuck in Nik's head for days on end.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy Is Torture: Averted Trope. Raff assumes it is when Kareena suggests it for Genevieve, but Nik points out that it's safe, painless, and effective.
  • Extreme Libido: Played for Drama with Genevieve, a patient whose manic phases of treatment-resistant bipolar disorder bring on hypersexual urges and romantic hallucinations. Her husband and the staff at the unit have to keep close watch so she doesn't do anything she will regret when she crashes.
  • The Fundamentalist: A downplayed version with Nik's mother, Jeshna. She's intensely Christian, and attributes her recovery after her son died to her gaining a relationship with Jesus. This puts her at odds with a lot of people, including her family, who have no desire to convert, and at her daughter's wedding she is seen proselytising various guests about Jesus and the one true God.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Played for Drama with Trevor, an aggressive patient whose bipolar disorder and drug abuse make him prone to violent outbursts. Also secretly Linda, acting Head Nurse on the ward.
  • Hallucinations: Some patients, notably Gen and Baz, have visual or auditory hallucinations. [[spoiler: As his mental health deteriorates, Nik's Imagine Spots slowly turn into these, with him hallucinating Pete giving him a warning about the wedding and hearing the music at his sister's wedding reception as "Come On, Eileen".
  • Heirloom Engagement Ring: Nik's sister Renuka wants to use their mother's ring as her wedding ring. Nik points out that it might be cursed, as their parents are divorced and Kareena (who Nik had proposed to with the same ring) is now married to someone else.
  • The Insomniac: Nik stops being able to sleep, kept up by the abovementioned Ear Worm and strange memories from his childhood. As the series goes on, he becomes snappy and more irritable as a result.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: A variant between the psychiatrists at Wakefield and a psychologist visiting for a second opinion. Exacerbated by the fact the psychologist in question is the same one Kareena is seeing for her own problems.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Kareena starts seeing a doctor for this.
  • Napoleon Delusion: Michael thinks that he's Prime Minister Harold Holt and that Billy McMahon is hunting him down. Unusually for this trope, it is largely Played for Drama as the delusion was likely induced by his intense grief after his wife's death.
  • The Place: Wakefield is the name of a psychiatric hospital.
  • Playing the Victim Card: Linda does this for all she is worth when she thinks it will get her out of trouble. Played With in that she genuinely does have problems that affect her behaviour — she just doesn't make any attempt to deal with with them in a healthy manner.
  • The Pollyanna: Collette, with strains of Granola Girl.
  • Repressed Memories / Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Nik begins to recover memories about his brother Dilshan's death as the series progresses.
  • The Reveal: Linda's disabled daughter Beth — for whom she claims to be primary carer — either doesn't exist or doesn't live with her.
    • The big reveal of the series, that Nik, as a child, accidentally knocked the radio into the bath while dancing to entertain his baby brother, which resulted in Dilshan being electrocuted and dying. He was dancing to the song "Come On, Eileen", which is why it became his Trauma Button.
  • Scenery Porn: The sweeping views of the Blue Mountains contrast with the mundanity and claustrophobia of the hospital.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Each episode shows the events of the same period of time from the perspectives of multiple characters.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: As a result of Switching P.O.V., above, although not everyone becomes more sympathetic in their own segments. Notable examples include Rohan in episode 7, who is shown to be genuinely petrified of violent patients and addicted to gaming as a way of feeling in control, and Linda whose segments imply a troubled home life. The latter is further subverted, however, by the reveal that her disabled daughter does not exist.
  • Working with the Ex: Head doctor on the ward and Nik's (sort of) boss is Dr Kareena Wells, Nik's ex-fiancée.