Did you notice The Secret Daughter opened with a forbidden storytelling trick?
We’re introduced to protagonist Billie Carter, played by Jessica Mauboy, via her mirrored reflection, discovering her features for the first time as she examines herself through critical eyes.
Anyone who’s ever penned a script, novel or TV treatment and has dipped a toe in the research pool knows this is a tired trope that’s best avoided at all costs.
However, this one small opening scene ably sets up the entire premise of The Secret Daughter.
This is because what we see with our naked, TV-watching eyes might not scale the heights of impressive, but once you know the back story behind the image it takes on a whole new meaning of importance.
Once you become aware this is the first time a commercial network, Australian or otherwise, has put an Indigenous face in the lead of a drama series, a played-out introduction becomes revolutionary.
The Secret Daughter centres around Billie, a country pub singer/bakery worker.
While tangling with the town’s local criminal element (a plot point that has a very nostalgic Blue Heelers feel to hit) Billie meets Jack Norton (played by the excellent Colin Friels).
Who we learn is a wealthy hotelier from Sydney who has arrived in town seeking his long lost daughter. And in an effort to keep herself and her father safe, Billie plays right into the ruse.
However, the casting of an Indigenous actress is not the only way they’ve made the character of Billie a standout.