The adaptation of Kathy Lette & Gabrielle Carey’s iconic Australian novel into a serialised television drama delivered a strong and enjoyable series, authentic to the book and the period in which it was set. Producers John Edwards & Imogen Banks offered a gorgeous realisation of the Sutherland Shire in a time of maturing innocence and a cast that commanded attention when on-screen.
Both Ashleigh Cummings (Debbie) and Brenna Harding (Sue) were note perfect as the heroines at the centre of the tale, their bond obvious whenever they shared the screen. Claudia Karvan (Judy), Jeremy Lindsay-Taylor (Martin), Dan Wyllie (Roger Knight), Susie Porter (Pam Knight), Rodger Corser (Ferris) & Susan Prior (Yvonne Hennessey) all delivered subtlety to their roles that allowed the younger cast to shine, yet proved their mettle as performers with each episode. Prior deserves special mention for her delivery of the down-trodden and cast aside Yvonne who herself experiences a coming-of-age throughout the series, as does Sean Keenan (Gary Hennessey) for his nuanced performance in what could have been ‘just another meathead boyfriend’.Channel 10 should be applauded for their commitment to the series and supporting not only an Aussie cast and crew, but a truly Australian story. Rumours persist that a second series of Puberty Blues will be made and delivered in 2013, and while it would obviously stretch from the book as entirely new material if delivered with the same strength as the first series it’d be a hit. The only shame is that this series didn’t draw more viewers, due largely to the network struggling in the ratings full stop. Guilty by association.
For greater insight into the making if the production this interview with Jeremy Lindsay-Taylor is recommended. The series has also been released today as a DVD 2-disc set with a number of special features including a featurette on rediscovering the story, directing the series and how the unique look of the series was created.
For viewers that lived it the first time the series was a marvellous dose of nostalgia and a story well told. For those who arrived as a result of the times (or subsequently) it was an enjoyable eye-opener into a very different Australia – yet so very the same.
As Debbie & Sue frolicked in the surf at the end of the final episode of Puberty Blues, we’re reminded of a myriad of changes: those that took place culturally in Australia during the 70’s; those that Debbie & Sue experienced and helped form their understanding of who they are; and the changes we saw & experienced as we grew up. These changes shaped our lives and the quality of a show like Puberty Blues reminds us that whatever changes we make or experience – there’s always the opportunity to reinvent ourselves when we remain true to who we really are.
Pass me a Violet Crumble, will ya?