By KATE HUNTER
Did you watch last night? I did, and I felt the sunny sky blue of early puberty becoming darker – a good thing. There’s only so far reminiscing about Chiko rolls and phones plugged into the walls can you – this episode was all about characters. Which one do you identify with most?
Debbie’s passport into the Greenhills gang arrived last night in the shape of hairy, monosyllabic surfer Bruce Board. Apparently, he’s a super spunk. REALLY? AM I THAT OLD? Was I the only one screaming, ‘Nooooooo! Ewwwww! Doooon’t! He needs a shower and a HAIRCUT.’
Of course, the most attractive thing to Debbie isn’t Bruce himself, but the mere fact he wanted to ‘go round with her’. Having a boyfriend meant instant respect. Just not from the boys. When Debbie watches a couple of the Greenhill crew on the beach, she sees what’s expected of a girl ‘goin’ round’ with a surfer.
My aversion to the blossoming romance (if you can call it that) between Bruce and Debbie probably explains why the character I most relate to is Debbie’s mum, Judy Vickers. This realisation is depressing. I’m so far from being a teenager. But it’s also reassuring – I like Karvan’s Judy a lot; she’s smart, kind and tries hard to stay close to her kids. Not so much her husband Martin, who’s emerging as an odd fish – not least because he’s more comfortable with fish than people.
Sue’s parents Pam and Roger Knight are as loose as Martin is uptight. In the seventies, parents of teenagers were often young – in their mid thirties – so parental games of strip jack naked, fuelled by Harvey wallbangers happened more than we’d like to imagine. What went on in the backs of panel vans was probably tame in comparison.
One of my favourites is Yvonne Henessey – Gary’s mum, and wife of philandering, Stag-driving Ferris. There’s a lot going on behind Yvonne’s devoted façade – the killer backhand gives us a hint. Just quietly, I hope she smashes her Slazenger across the back of Ferris’s neck.
Then there’s Cheryl – chief mean girl. Cheryl has a baby brother and a hardworking single mother – he toughens and softens her at the same time. Finally, how fantastic is Debbie’s little brother David? He’s peripheral but pivotal, asking, ‘Why does everyone hate talking about sex?’ It’s such a brilliant line, because although no one’s talking about it, they’re either planning it, doing it, or in the case of David’s dad – wishing he was doing it.
Puberty Blues is a story about a nation growing up. It tells the story of two girls, Debbie and Sue; theirinnocence 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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Who’s your favourite character in Puberty Blues? Who do you relate to?