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TV Shows About Mermaids

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published June 22nd 2022
Don't poke the mermaid with a stick
1.Mako Mermaids

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Nixie, Sirena and Lyla are three mermaids living on a mysterious island called Mako and trying to keep their existence hidden from 'land people'. When a boy named Zac visits the island and stumbles into their sacred Moon Pool on the night of the full moon he is transformed into a merman, and gains the ability to control water. The three mermaids follow Zac when he returns to the mainland hoping to remove his powers and keep their secrets.

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The mermaids swimming in the introduction.

Mako Mermaids (originally called Mako: Island of Secrets) is an Australian show aimed at children and teenagers. Because of the target audience it is pretty clean and wholesome, and the merpeople are magically fully clothed when they transform into humans.

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Sirena, Nixie and Lyla.

The show was created by Jonathan M. Shiff, who also produced the mermaid related 90's Australian sci fi series Ocean Girl. It is a spin-off of another children's show called H20: Just Add Water, which is also about the island of Mako.

As in most on screen depictions of mermaids, the actresses who play them are mostly slim and white, although Chai Hansen (from The New Legends of Monkey and The 100), who plays Zac, is Thai-Australian.

It's pretty nifty how instead of relying entirely on CGI there are scenes where the actresses actually swim in custom made mermaid tails.

2. Tidelands

Elsa Pataky Adrielle, leader of L'Attente.

After ten years in prison for murder, Cal McTeer returns home to the small coastal Queensland town of Orphelin Bay. She finds her brother, Augie, a local fisherman, is involved with the Tidelanders, a community of human-siren hybrids, the result of fishermen having sex with sirens. Cal struggles to find where she fits in as the Tidelanders and fishermen make deals with a drug cartel.

Tidelanders is beautifully shot, well acted, and the plot is full of twists and turns. For a change, the Tidelanders are of various ethnicities, coming from all over the world to live together at Orphelin Bay. They not have tails, but can breathe underwater and control water to an extent, like the Mako mermaids.

This show is definitely for adults, and not for the squeamish. The Tidelanders seem to have a thing about eyeballs. There is also a fair bit of nudity and some sex scenes.

3. Siren (2018)

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Logo from the series.

Siren (not to be confused with the the 2014 sitcom Sirens, or the many other series with the same or similar names) is set in the small coastal town of Bristol Cove, Washington. Some fishermen accidentally catch a strange creature, which attacks them before being taken away by the military. A mermaid called Ryn comes to the town in search of her missing sister and two marine biologists try to find out what brought the mermaids to the town.

suffers in comparison with Tidelands, which was more nuanced and subtle, but it's still an intriguing, watchable fantasy drama. Eline Powell is wonderful as Ryn, with her strange body language and almost unblinking eyes.

There is some violence in this one, with the mermaids willing and able to defend themselves and hunt prey. This was also the first time I had seen the transformation from mermaid to human and back depicted in such a gruesome, disturbing way, similar to how werewolves are often depicted in movies. I'm only up to the first season, but judging by the posters, in a later season there is a baby mermaid, so I'm curious to see whether mermaids give birth like mammals or lay eggs.

In Australia it is currently streaming on Disney Plus.

4. Invisible City

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When an anthropologist named Gabriella is killed in a fire in Brazil, her husband, Eric, who is a police officer, does not believe her death is an accident. Then, when a dead pink dolphin washes ashore on a beach in Rio he is convinced that there is some connection between the two events.

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Jessica Córes as Iara, the mermaid.

Invisible City is a Brazillian series, created by Carlos Saldanha (director of Ice Age Meltdown and Rio). It is full of creatures from Brazillian folklore, including a shapeshifting pink dolphin, and a beautiful mermaid called Iara. It's an unusual show, and reminded me a little of Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

This show is for adults, and does contain violence and some horror. It is Portuguese and I watched it with subtitles but Netflix also offers an English dubbed version.

5. Legends of the Blue Sea

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Poster for the series.

During the Joseon era in Korea a huge storm leaves a mermaid stranded on the shore. A local official plans to have her killed for her valuable oil, but a young nobleman named Dam-ryeong saves her.

In the present day, Heo Joon-jae (played by Lee Min-ho from Boys Over Flowers) is a con artist who is staying at a hotel on a small island in the Mediterranean when the mermaid, Shim Cheong (Jun Ji-hyun) breaks into his hotel room in search of food. Spotting a valuable bracelet on her arm, he tries to get closer to her in order to steal it. Over time they discover that they knew each other in their previous lives.

Legends of the Blue Sea
is a South Korean romantic comedy which aired on SBS in 2016 and is currently streaming on Netflix in Australia. It's whimsical and fun, and the mermaids are sparkly. My favourite moment in the first episode is watching Shim Cheong eating two slices of chocolate cake at once, one in each hand, just living her best life. It's definitely worth watching if you are a fan of k-drama, mermaids, or both.

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