By KATE HUNTER
I love the opening credits of Puberty Blues – that perfect, glassy wave. It reminds me of the ads for ‘Crystal Cylinders’ the surf brand that preceded Billabong, even Rip Curl. ‘Now you’re feelin’ free,’ went the jingle, ‘In your Crystal Cylinders …’
It was too perfect, of course – the waves, the sun. It was only a matter of time before pollution and skin cancer spoiled the party.
Puberty Blues became even darker last night. And it made me ask whether, in 30 years, has anything besides music, haircuts and seat belt laws changed at all? Are the challenges of growing up any easier, particularly for teenage girls?
Sex. I hope and pray (as the mother of two girls) that my daughters are a bit savvier than Debbie and Sue by the time they start ‘goin’ round’ with boys. I want them to be (as well as older) a bit gutsier, able to say, ‘No,’ or, ‘That hurts,’ or, ‘For god’s sake have a shower.’ I don’t want them to have sex in a panel van (actually, the make of the car is irrelevant), or imagine whether there’s something wrong with them if it doesn’t ‘fit’.
I hope my girls will ask me, not the Cheryl equivalent (and there will be one) when is the right time to have sex. I’ll suggest a window of possibly longer than a week.
Similarly, I hope my son realises girls are people and not, as Kathy Lette once wrote, ‘Sperm Spittoons’.
For all the parents’ looseness and Strip Jack naked playing, they were rubbish at communicating with their kids. Would it have made any difference if they had? Have kids ever really listened to their parents? They certainly watched. Poor, tortured Gary doesn’t have much of a role model in his dad does he? The invisible father-son arm wrestle is torturous. As soon as Ferris offers Gary a glimmer of approval, he turns around and smashes it like a surfboard under a Stag. I wonder what Dr Phil would have to stay about that piece of parenting.
Alcohol. I have a theory that mobile phones make kids drunker. When I was at schoolies week in 1984 (pretty much my only experience of wild times at the beach) we spent so much time WALKING AROUND LOOKING FOR PEOPLE, there was a chance to sober up between drinks. Sure, like Cheryl, there were spews in public places, but I can’t remember any hospitalisations. A doctor pal of mine said binge drinking now among kids is so bad that, ‘If it wasn’t for alcohol, emergency departments would be pretty much empty on a Saturday night.’
Drugs. So far, there’s a bit of dope wafting around the Greenhills gang, but not much else. In 2012, there’s a veritable cornucopia of drugs to choose from. A chemical smorgasbord, something for all tastes and budgets. Mixed with a range of caffeine charged, alcoholic premixes, its no wonder today’s drugs have paramedics reaching for the Redbull.
Relationships. Debbie and Sue now have boyfriends, and the respect of Cheryl (who seems less cool since her hurl on Gary’s dad’s car) but are they any happier? What’s it going to do to their friendship?
In 1979 and 2012, one thing is constant – growing up can be ugly, even when the backdrop is beautiful.
Puberty Blues is a story about a nation growing up. It tells the story of two girls, Debbie and Sue; their innocence lost and experience gained against the backdrop of Australia in the seventies.
Based on the iconic novel Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey, the series will move beyond the original pages and explore the (mis) adventures of these young girls, their families and friends in a more naïve time in Australia’s history.
8:30pm Wednesdays, on Ten.
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What do you think? Is it easier growing up now than it was in the seventies?