Whatever emotion it is that you’re feeling right now when even thinking of the word is exactly why writing authentic, engaging drama about a group of people connected by birth is so damn hard. It’s a multi-facted understanding of relationships, none of which are ever easy and rarely translate well from the page to the flat screen on your wall.

Which is what makes The Time Of Our Lives even more astonishing. That Judi McCrossin & Amanda Higgs have so delicately weaved together an extended family unit that reflect decisions we’ve all made at one time or another and deliver it so realistically makes it a joy to simply watch.

It’s the Secret Life of Us, all grown up & responsible. Sorta. It’s the time of our frantic, messy, frustrating, funny, sometimes awful, lives.

The Tivoli family are no different to any other Aussie family. Three adult kids (one adopted), two married (one twice), grandkids to boot, mongrel mate of the middle child who has been around so long he’s basically family. Normally you’d expect some form of misunderstanding and hilarity to ensue – thank your chosen deity that’s not the case. The performances from the entire ensemble cast (William McInnes, Claudia Karvan, Shane Jacobsen, Justine Clarke, Stephen Curry, Michelle Vergara Moore, Tony Barry, Sue Jones) are developed far beyond what is usually expected in a first season. All are nuanced and reflect the subtleties of family relationships grown over years of love, pain and joy.

The Time Of Our Lives has inexplicably managed to capture the minutae of life and reveal for what it is. Relationships are everything and all exist on a knife’s edge based on the decisions we make. The series lilts along, capturing you in a modern, inner-Melbourne world so much you find yourself almost eavesdropping on family conversations (and wondering where the hell did Luce & Bernadette find their amazing terrace?!).

Blended families. Adoption. Divorce. Love. Work. Life. It’s all there, laid bare for all to see. This 13 part series sets a new standard for Australian drama. The ABC are on a winner with The Time Of Our Lives.

The Time Of Our Lives – Sun 8:30pm, ABC1.