It’s now only a matter of weeks until beloved Australian soap Neighbours — which airs daily on Channel 5 at 1.45pm — concludes after 37 years. But as the show heads rapidly towards the finale, it's been actively striking the perfect balance in its storylines.
As fans, we’re all still coming to terms with the fact that we’ll never see our favourite Ramsay Street residents again come August.
Yet as we edge closer to this monumental loss to television, it feels like the right time to highlight just how strong Neighbours’ content currently is.
The imminent finale will feature several familiar faces returning to pay homage to the show that launched their careers, like Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce.
But despite the fact that nostalgia is on the agenda, the soap hasn’t been resting on its laurels.
While we wait for the likes of Scott, Charlene and Mike to pop back for the final farewell, characters like newcomer Freya Wozniak (Phoebe Roberts) and Hendrix Greyson (Ben Turland) have been taking centre stage in hard-hitting plots that have kept us all gripped.
Freya went from one hostage situation to another as her search for ex-boyfriend Gareth Bateman (Jack Pearson) reached a harrowing climax, only for her to later be targeted by cult member Christabel (Syd Zeiger).
Read more: Neighbours axed: Are other soaps at risk?
Yet the dark scenes didn’t outstay their welcome, with Freya and fellow victim Harlow Robinson (Jemma Donovan) rescued by their friends. The latter’s own tormentor, Corey Smythe-Jones (Laurence Boxhall) is still on the loose, so it’s not as though the story has been wrapped up too neatly.
But Neighbours clearly sensed we needed a break from the angst, as it delivered a heartwarming development when Freya and love interest Levi Canning (Richie Morris) finally got together. Star Roberts has shone in the role as she won over fans within weeks of joining the show.
Freya and Levi aren’t the only couple to endure such a mix of joy and sorrow. Step forward, Hendrix and soulmate Mackenzie Hargreaves (Georgie Stone), who until recently provided only light relief through their heartwarming scenes. In a complete contrast, they are currently navigating Hendrix’s battle with pulmonary fibrosis.
Spoilers have now revealed that Hendrix will pass away next week when his life-saving lung transplant fails. While it could be argued that airing such a devastating death at this time is unnecessary, it’s worth noting that star Turland had chosen not to renew his contract prior to news breaking about the show’s fate.
Therefore, tearing the couple apart in such a tragic way is the only believable outcome. A hastily written exit or tiresome cheating trope simply wouldn’t have made sense for these two; and as a result Hendrix and Mackenzie will be remembered as one of Neighbours’ strongest romantic partnerships.
Hendrix’s illness has sparked some stunning moments for the soap, as the character whisked Mackenzie away to Sydney where he took her to his favourite childhood haunts. He acknowledged just how lucky he felt to have her in his life, and surprised her with a marriage proposal.
What followed was a beautiful episode which saw Hendrix and Mackenzie become husband and wife this week. Swept up in the romance between the pair, viewers have been touched by the performances from talented duo Turland and Stone.
Adding to the theme, let's not forget that fellow power couple David Tanaka (Takaya Honda) and Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson) are still going strong. Even David's medical manslaughter charge couldn't break them, making them one of soapland's most refreshing pairings as they weather every storm together. Actors Honda and Wilson have certainly delivered an iconic love story.
If you would like to read my thoughts on what the ending of @Neighbours means, click the link in my bio ✌🏽
Let me know what you think and what Neighbours means to you! ♥️
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— Takaya Honda (@takayahonda) May 24, 2022
As Neighbours quotes in its theme song, the show has found 'the perfect blend' with emotional drama and heartening moments of pure happiness.
Perhaps the decision not to prolong plots, instead injecting lighter moments amid more serious storylines, was due to time running out. Or maybe it’s simply about understanding that seamless balance the audience is always craving.
Either way, Neighbours has hit upon a winning formula. It could be said that the soap is in better shape than ever; which once again brings us back to the unfathomable task of saying goodbye.
One thing is certain, though - the serial drama will be going out on an almighty high.
Watch Levi fight for Freya in Neighbours