The first episode of NITV’s Family Rules aired last night, and it has Australia talking for all the right reasons.
Dubbed the “Aussie Kardashians” the show features Daniella Borg and her nine daughters facing the dilemmas of family life in contemporary Australia.
Producer Renee Kennedy puts it best when she describes the Rule family as at once “completely ordinary but extremely extraordinary”.
In 2004, husband and father of nine, Kevin Rule, was the victim of a fatal one punch attack. Daniella’s youngest daughter was only a few weeks old when she lost her 38-year-old father.
Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Monique Bowley offer their TV recommendations. Post continues below.
But last night wasn’t a story of tragedy. It was a depiction of an Indigenous family, which we rarely (if ever) see on prime time television, negotiating the everyday complications that come with raising teenage daughters.
Here are the top moments from the first episode of Family Rules.
Daniella Borg on being a single mum
We first meet Daniella as she yells at 17-year-old Aleisha “no cleaning, no Wifi!”, establishing that she is, in fact, a brilliant parent.
She’s strong, incredibly smart and driven, and values nothing more than family and education. The lounge room boasts what she calls the “honours wall”, where she hangs photographs of all her daughters graduating from high school, an opportunity Daniella never had.
"I put the rest on hold, so I can be a good mother for my children," Daniella tells the camera. "I don't want them giving up on their dream."
For 12 years, Daniella has been a single parent to her nine daughters. "I really love being a mum," she says, "but it does get hard."
Aleisha would like her mother to pay for her hair extensions, please.
Well, um, this sounds awfully familiar.
Aleisha, 17, is preparing for her Year 12 formal. She's vivacious, rebellious and, in her own words, "cheeky".
Finding the perfect dress is a family affair, with her older sister, Shenika, a professional model, helping her pick out the most flattering gown.
But the dress is only the beginning. Aleisha would also like hair extensions. And her nails done. And her makeup professionally applied.
The formal is, as every Australian girl knows, the most stressful and competitive social event in a young woman's life.
Aleisha works a casual job, but asks that her mum please pay for her hair extensions. In a line that sums up every Australian teenage girl to ever exist, Aleisha argues "It's not that I want the hair extensions, it's that I need the hair extensions." Her logic is faultless.
Her argument becomes even more compelling. When Daniella (aka mother of the year) suggests that Aleisha pay for them herself with, you know, her own money, Aleisha says "But I don't really want to pay for it with my own money because I just feel like that's a waste." So true.
Ah, so many lessons learned in such a short amount of time. Daniella takes a breath and explains "...but you're prepared for someone else who worked for their money to pay for your hair extensions?"
Um. Yes Daniella. Of course she does.
The next scene has Daniella on her laptop at the dinner table, and when she's challenged, she just says it's because she doesn't want to speak to anyone.
This is the most realistic depiction of teenage life I think I've ever seen.
Oh. And Aleisha would like her sisters to pay to have her nails done.
This girl is driven.
When it becomes clear that Daniella isn't going to pay for all the extras, Aleisha does some good ol' problem solving. Her solution? Turn to the older sisters.
One sister laughs in her face. But that's okay because there are others.
So she approaches 20-year-old Sharna. "You look like a loving sister.." Aleisha says as they sit at the dinner table together.
Aleisha, you are good.
Without even taking a breath she says "You pay for my nails?" I'm not sure whether to include a question mark or not because I'm 90 per cent sure that Aleisha intended it as a statement.
Sharna doesn't react well to the "order". So she tries a new tactic; "Sharna, will you please pay for my nails, because I do everything for you?" Personally, I think she's gone too big too soon.
Sharna rolls her eyes, laughing "What do you do for me?"
What follows is no less than 16 seconds of silence. Seriously, I counted. Because Aleisha simply cannot back up her claims whatsoever. Finally she says "I did your hair today!"
The scene ends, but I'm fairly certain Sharna ended up paying for her nails.
You can watch the trailer for Family Rules, here. Post continues below.
It almost seems trite to express how much it means to have an Indigenous family comprised of ten women on television. At a time when our Indigenous community is one of the most disenfranchised in the world, it's nothing less than groundbreaking to offer a glimpse into their everyday lives.
There is perhaps no better way to disrupt damaging racial stereotypes that continue to hurt Indigenous Australians, than to represent them fully and on their own terms.
Family Rules offers a face to Indigenous women, and Daniella's hope that "people can laugh with us and relate to us, or some of us – because we’re all different, and all the girls have different personalities,” has absolutely been realised.
Their comparison to the Kardashians may at first seem uncomfortable, but it's intentional. And it's genius.
In marketing this program as dramatic and entertaining (which it absolutely is) they've piqued people's interest and have been able to garner a sizeable audience.
Now, they can tell them a much more important story in the process.
If you missed last night's episode, you can catch up here.
Family Rules is a six-part series airing on Monday nights at 7.30pm on NITV (Channel 34 and Foxtel 144).