GILES HARDIE August 16, 2012
Ashleigh Cummings and Brenna Harding as Deborah and Sue in Puberty Blues.
Puberty Blues is everything that that other TV show set in Sutherland Shire isn't ... thank moll!
Puberty Blues report card - A tale of two Shires
What’s it all about?
Scheduled a little after but set a long time before The Shire, Ten's new retro drama Puberty Blues sings where the former screeches, and is being loved as opposed to loathed.
When a show starts with a view of a pair of brown stubbies wearing a Dan Wylie, who promptly takes a red convertible for a joyride – AND THAT IS ALL PERFECTLY OK - you know we are set for an endearing, self-satirising ride down memory lane. And the driver’s probably swigging from a tinnie.
Based on the classic book by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, this is a syrupy journey back to days of yore ... or should that be days of moll? Either way it’s 1979. The pace of life is slower and so is the story telling. Both are refreshing after the frenetic pace of other offerings.
The performances are universally excellent. Wyllie shines as the larrikin dad, with Porter his perfect counterpart. Claudia Karvan and Jeremy Lindsay Taylor great counter-points. However it is Ashleigh Cummings and Brenna Harding as the young Debbie and Sue on whose peeling sunburnt shoulders this show rests and they shine, particularly Harding’s comic timing.
Never have a pair worn flavoured ice drinks so well. (And what a relief that this visual has been clawed back from the ever-degenerating Glee!)
Special mention to Susan Prior as the poor deluded Yvonne Hennessey, whose hair DID look a little like the Opera House.
The test for Puberty Blues was always going to be how Ten’s target audience “the youth of today” responded, and based on the demographics that watched last night (and tweeted thereafter) Australian teenagers are happy to partake in a bit of time travelling.
In a sentence
In an age where drunk driving is just embarrassing (and even then only for your kids), where molls ride horses on the beach, and where date rape hasn’t been invented as a phrase (but probably should be), it can be tough for two teenage girls trying to fit in in the suburbs ... it can also be funny and heart-warming to watch.
“You’re dropped”, “moll”, “couldn’t I just get the ruler”, “moll”, the Vaseline, “moll” ... so many to choose from, but somehow drunk driver Roger’s slow swerve up a grassy knoll takes the prize, followed by “found a park”, and the perfectly recreated response of teen mortification from daughter Sue as Wyllie’s Roger and wife Pam react by skinny dipping in the ocean. Boozy barmy brilliance!
The “moll” count was wonderful and gradually hysterical, but the thought that success for the show could see the word reappear in the common parlance is terrifying!
Wednesday August 22nd, 8.30pm
How’d it rate?
925,000 Metro City viewers, ranking it 9th on the night. 2nd among the 18 to 49, 16 to 39 and 25 to 54 demographics.
#PubertyBlues trended #1 in Australia on Twitter last night
Worth watching again?
Of course, if only so you know why people start calling you moll
A for a great trip down memory lane