Mia Freedman answers the 20 most common questions about Strife, the show inspired by Mamamia.

What is the Strife TV show about?

Strife on BINGE follows the story of Evelyn Jones (played by Asher Keddie), a modern, flawed woman and publisher on her journey from lounge room blogger to powerhouse in women's media.

Is Strife based on your life? Will someone be playing you?

No, nobody is playing me. Asher Keddie is playing a character called Evelyn Jones. Strife is loosely based on my experience of leaving magazines to start a women’s website but it’s not my personal story.

Do you think Strife is close to the reality of your life experience?

It’s fiction, so it’s not my life. We were all very adamant from the start that we didn’t want Strife to be a biopic. That’s why it’s inspired by the book not ‘based’ on the book. There’s a difference! We had a lot more creative freedom to make a compelling show without having to be faithful to any real-life narrative. But the world that we created and the things you see happen on Strife are all true to life — just not necessarily my life.

Is Strife set now? Or back in the noughties?

Strife is set in 2012 which was a very deliberate decision because it was a significant inflection point in media when digital was emerging and magazines were just starting to die. We originally considered having it set more recently, but that period was such a disruptive time; the Internet meant that huge companies were no longer the gate-keepers of media. So a woman could go solo and build her own brand. Legacy media - print, radio and TV - were still where all the money was though, so it was a really steep mountain to climb if you wanted to start your own company

It was also a pivotal time in the culture because a new wave of young feminism was shifting media and culture more generally. It was before #metoo and before cancel culture and before ideas and words like “woke” were in the zeitgeist but you can really see the seeds of all of those things being laid in the show.


Who chose the name Evelyn Jones?

I can’t remember who came up with it but it would have been one of the writers, probably our head writer and showrunner, Sarah Scheller. We went through a couple of other names in early drafts of the script but we settled on Evelyn pretty quickly. It felt right. We wanted something that could be shortened for the website name and also have a double meaning: Eve.

What was it like working with legendary Hollywood producer, Bruna Papandrea?

Honestly? A dream. And also hilarious. Bruna and I have been friends since we were about 20 when we were both starting out in our careers. She was working as a booker at a photographer’s agency and I was a beauty editor at Cleo magazine and we struck up a friendship over the phone when I had to call and book photographers for shoots. It was the fastest of friendships because neither of us f**k around. We fell in love basically, in the platonic but intense way you do when you just connect with a female friend. We were inseparable and got up to all sorts of shenanigans. She produced her first film in Australia, called Better Than Sex and then she moved to the UK to continue her extraordinary career. She was always going to be a big deal. You could just tell that about her. I’ve never met anyone so driven. She’s brilliant.

It was pre-email and text and social so we lost touch for a couple of decades but I watched on so incredibly proud and in awe of what she was doing, winning awards and building her reputation as one of the top film and TV producers in the world with Big Little Lies and Wild and Gone Girl. There was never any doubt that she was going to be a star in whatever she put her mind to. I’ve never met anyone with the passion, intensity and work ethic she has.


When my memoir, Work Strife Balance came out, she was in Australia, and we reconnected. She came into Mamamia to do a No Filter interview in 2016 and this was that moment:

Mia Freedman with Bruna Papandrea. Image: Supplied.


When said she wanted to make my book into a TV show, I just thought she was being polite but Bruna doesn’t do polite. She’s very serious about her work. She never f**ks around and she always means what she says. But it was a long process, and that part was challenging for me. I got bored, so it’s lucky I had a day job. And so did she — she produced so many things during the time we were developing the show because that’s how her industry works. You always have many projects in different stages of development at once.

Development takes years. You have endless meetings and we tried out a couple of writers but we couldn’t land the right creative approach or the right tone. TV is so slow compared to digital media where you can have an idea in the morning and it can be published in the afternoon. That’s my kind of speed.

I would keep forgetting that we were even working on it but Bruna never forgot. She and her producing partners at Made Up Stories kept at our tiny idea while they did other massive projects like The Dry and Nine Perfect Strangers and The Undone and Penguin Bloom.

Eventually, we found the perfect lead writer and show-runner, Sarah Scheller who had written The Let Down and she just got it. Clare and Jessie Stephens were enlisted from the very beginning. I didn’t want to make this show without them. I’ve worked with them for years at Mamamia and they are the funniest writers I know. I knew we needed their specific experience and viewpoint of the world of women’s media for the show to work so they signed on officially as producers and writers at the start and were involved alongside me all the way. Once we had Sarah involved, things started to happen more quickly.


The next big piece of the puzzle was Asher Keddie of course. The title character of Evelyn had to carry the whole show, and that’s a big ask for an actor to take on. When Bruna told me that Asher was interested and wanted to also sign on as an Executive Producer with me and Bruna and Steve and Jodi and Sarah, I couldn’t believe it. She and I met and we also just hit it off instantly. What a woman.

Mia Freedman and Asher Keddie. Image: Supplied.


The final piece was the director, Stuart Bowen, who made the most incredible pitch reel I’ve ever seen.

There were scenes in there from other shows that I’d actually written down as inspiration. It was uncanny how he got what we were trying to do with this show. We knew from that moment we’d found our person to execute on the vision we all had. He is such an artist.

Mia Freedman with Strife director, Stuart Bowen. Image: Supplied.


We’ve never looked back. Binge came on board quickly after that and we were off. Watching Asher and Bruna and Sarah and our director Stuart Bowen at work was a masterclass in an industry I knew nothing about. I learned so much and laughed so much. And each day I got to go back to my day job just inspired by the brilliance of a creative team at the top of their game.

Is it weird having a TV show made about YOU?

Well, it’s fiction, so it’s not about me.  The beating heart of the show is the reality of being an ambitious woman in her 40s and being a mother and all the challenges that go with that plus what it’s like to work in women’s media and the intensity of being a small office when you’re a startup. But there are some parallels and similarities and I would be lying if I said there haven’t been some surreal moments seeing certain things on screen. I’ve had a long time to get used to the idea though. We’ve been working on the show for years since we had those first conversations about doing it.

Would you change anything about Strife if you could?

No way. It’s been a such a long and collaborative process — Bruna assures me that it has been very quick in terms of how long TV or film usually takes — and because I’m one of the Executive Producers, anything I have felt strongly about we have worked through. I can’t think of anything we haven’t been aligned on, to be honest. I’ve always been very clear that I’ve never been a producer before so I’ve taken the opportunity to sit back and watch and learn from the experts. Being in those rooms where decisions are made and getting to be part of that... it sounds cheesy but my god, it’s been an honour and a masterclass. These people are literally the best in the world at what they do. I’m basically work experience and I’ve loved that.


Are there characters based on any current Mamamia staff?

Absolutely not. I can unequivocally reassure all the people I worked with throughout the past 15 years since Mamamia started (literally hundreds of women and a handful of men) that there are no characters based on specific individuals. I’ve worked in women’s media and in female-only offices for my entire career and so have many of our writers and producers so we had a lot of material to work with. Decades of it.

How did the fashion department work?

I sent the wardrobe department tons of photos from when Mamamia started because there were some things specific to that time. Like belts. So many belts! And ankle boots. At first, I thought I wanted Evelyn to dress like me but then I realised that was ridiculous because she’s not me and thankfully, Asher and our wardrobe manager had a strong vision for Evelyn’s wardrobe which is so much better than anything I could have imagined.

The funny part is that since we began filming, I have started to dress like Evelyn. All I want to wear is suits and shirts with wide-legged pants and trainers. I’m a highly absorbent fashion sponge. Evelyn’s style is just awesome. The head of wardrobe did come and borrow a bunch of my old stuff for the character of Opal and she ended up wearing a few things of mine so that was fun.


The Strife cast. Image: Supplied.

Have you watched Strife through?

So many times! One of the things that has been most challenging for me is how many drafts of a script you read and how many edits you watch because I get bored easily. And then there are the daily rushes which is the raw footage of what’s filmed each day.  Then the music is added and sound is mixed... it’s a very detailed process.

Should I read the book first?

You don’t need to read it to enjoy the show but I’d obviously love it if you read the book. If you love the show, you will definitely enjoy the book. If you want to read the book, you can find it here.


Strife, a memoir by Mia Freedman. Image: Supplied.

Is the book autobiographical?

The book is a memoir but the TV show, Strife, is very much fiction. It’s certainly not a direct re-telling of my story and it’s not an adaptation of the book although many of the themes are the same.


What is the air date?

It drops on Binge on December 6th.

Will it be on Foxtel too?

Yes, on both platforms: Binge and Foxtel.

How many episodes is Strife and how long is each episode?

8 episodes all 30 mins or so.

Will all episodes drop at once? Please let me binge it all in a day.

Yes, they will. It’s called Binge for a reason and we love that.

Will we see any cameo appearances?

You will.

Will there be a second series?

We are in development for season two, yes. Writing has already begun.

Can I watch Strife in New Zealand? The US? UK? Europe?

The show has not landed with a NZ Partner yet but expect news on that soon. We are chatting with potential partners now so we don’t yet know who that will be. But yes, hopefully soon.

Is there a trailer?

Yes. You can watch the trailer here.

You can also watch the official trailer for Strife below.

Video via Binge.

All episodes of Strife will be streaming on Binge and Foxtel on December 6th.

Featured Image: Supplied.

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