Coastal New South Wales, 1971: While war rages in Vietnam and the world is rocked by epochal cultural and political unrest, in the sleepy town of Woogonga, best buds Snapper Webster (Ben O’Toole) and Trotter Dwyer (Sean Keenan) are financing their surfing lifestyle by flogging the occasional wetsuit under Snapper’s Bare Feet Surf Co label.
Trotter is a bit more ambitious, and when Snapper shoots down his plans for expansion, he breaks away to form his own Lightwave Surf Company and begins selling board shorts with his new wife (and Snapper’s ex), Tracy Chan (Jillian Nguyen). Feelings are hurt, Trotter’s (empty, mind you) caravan gets shoved off a cliff, and an epic rivalry is born.
The dawn of the Australian surfwear industry isn’t a bad setting for a television series, with the conflict between the counterculture and the corporate world offering ripe opportunities for drama. Co-creator Mick Lawrence (Bra Boys, Fighting Fear) realised that when he read Phil Jarratt’s Salt and Suits, an oral history of such brands as Quiksilver, Billabong, Hang Ten and more. You’ve got a period of upheaval, a vibrant creative community, an obvious dramatic throughline, and a setting that demands a lot of athletic young people in swimwear for set dressing. When Barons, which Lawrence created with John Molloy (The Gloaming) and Head Writer Liz Doran (Molly) is actually focused on this and advancing its story, it’s a pretty good time.