Boy Swallows Universe is an almost flawless piece of Australian TV, but there’s one problem.

Whether Robert intentionally tried to kill his sons or not, there’s no clear resolution to the scene, other than from Robert’s perspective, who proves throughout the series to not be the most reliable storyteller.  

Let’s not forget that the character is introduced while chasing Eli with an axe during a drunken episode. As the series unfolds, he sobers up and becomes a much more pleasant person to be around. 

The series even alludes to a reunion between Robert and Frankie as the family’s bond is sealed through trauma. 

This just feels a bit off considering the father’s history with the family, as if the viewer has to accept that all of Robert’s issues stemmed from alcoholism. 

Someone being considered the devil when drunk but a saint while sober sounds like a convenient excuse. 

This was a surprising plot point given how the series approaches other domestic violence instances. In the case of Frankie’s post-prison partner Teddy, the series delicately tackles the ways poverty, crime, and addiction can intersect with and exacerbate instances of domestic violence. 

That being said, the treatment of Robert is a small criticism of a beautiful coming-of-age story. It’s raw, honest, unapologetically Australian, surprisingly upbeat amid tragedy, and with a lot of heart. 

Boy Swallows Universe is now streaming on Netflix.

Feature image: Netflix.