New Australian drama Playing For Keeps may seem like a jaunty TV dream, but in truth it’s both a tantalising and terrifying ride.
The tantalisation and glamour of the show comes from the Network Ten TV series giving us a dramatised peek into the secrets, lives and lies of the Wives and Girlfriends (WAGs) of Australian football players. A world of women who, thanks to being linked to a group of male athletes our society insists as treating like Gods, have now been warped into a different version of celebrity.
A life complete with all the perks and pitfalls that come with playing in the fame game.
If you’re shaking your head right about now and asking yourself why on Earth we even need a show about the lives of women attached to footballers, then I politely invite you to click onto any Aussie news and lifestyle website, crack a magazine or take a scan through Instagram’s Discover page. Any one of these avenues will quickly prove that not only are we interested in the lives of these women in real life, but our interest has now spilled over into pure obsession.
Even I have to admit, as someone who would rather watch my iPhone slowly update than be forced to endure any kind of televised sporting event, that I find the the behind-the-scenes lives of these women somewhat fascinating, and it has nothing to do with what kind of balls their boyfriends are throwing on game days.
After all, come Brownlow Medal time (unsure as to what sport that event is actually celebrating… I want to say football? Or perhaps cricket… ) I must confess that I am watching that red carpet with laser focused eyes along with the rest of Australia, waiting for these women to arrive.
As a country, we pretty much all willed this show into existing.
Whet your appetite for Playing For Keeps by taking a look at the trailer.
Playing For Keeps kicks off at the beginning of a new football season for the the Southern Jets, a (fictional, I think) football team who are desperate to prove themselves after losing the grand final by just a single point the year before.
The club’s new recruit Daniel (George Pullar) arrives in Melbourne with his girlfriend Paige in tow.
Paige has arrived in town unemployed but determined to find a job as a teacher and make a life for herself alongside her hometown love, and the young couple find themselves giddy with excitement at the glamorous world they have manged to manoeuvre themselves into.
That is, until they actually meet the other members of the team and their wives and girlfriends, quickly finding out that they may be in way over their heads.
Paige is very much the traditional ‘fish-out-of-water’ character, and acts as our eyes and ears into a world that most of us will (thankfully) never venture into.
On her first meeting with the WAGs, Paige ambles in happily to what she believes to be a casual team BBQ, bread and sausages poking innocently out of her shoulder bag, only to find herself in a glittering champagne reception.
At the party, Paige encounters Kath (Madeleine West) the coolly mannered coach’s wife and Queen Bee of the WAG pack, along with Maddy (Annie Maynard), a high-flying lawyer and mother of two and Jessie (Isabella Giovinazzo), a young mother who we soon learn has football aspirations of her own.
Slightly less welcoming to Paige is Tahlia (Olympia Valance), a dazzling social media influencer and entrepreneur who is in the midst of launching her very own fragrance, creatively named “Tahlia by Tahlia.”
The fact that I couldn’t even make it through that last character description without throwing in a slightly insulting jab has probably already led you to discover that from the outset, Tahlia is the poster girl for what we traditionally think a WAG to be. Cutting, vapid, perfectly groomed and getting rich and famous off her partner’s skills, success and fame rather than on her own merit.