Sunday 19 August 2012

Book to TV: Puberty Blues

It's a bit hard to compare one episode of a TV series to a whole book, so I thought I'd just post some general thoughts on the first episode of Puberty Blues. I may do a more in-depth comparison once the season comes to a close. (Psst, you can see my review of the book here).

  • The casting is amazing. The adults, all Aussie veterans, are obviously great, but I think the young cast is really brilliant. Deb, Sue and Garry were highlights for me, though that could be coz they were obviously given the most screentime in this ep.
  • Deb and Sue's story is off to a solid start, while the adults and boys have been given much bigger story lines than in the book. I like the way the first show focused on Garry's problems; he already stands apart from the other dropkick guys. But I hope the show doesn't sanitise the overall misogyny too much - it would really undermine the message of the original. They don't seem to be shying away from the more disturbing aspects, like date rape. As for the parents, the setup for their subplots is promising, and provides a bit of welcome balance to the squeals of Deb and Sue.
  • I wrote down the exact quote and lost it, but I loved the inclusion of Persuasion by Jane Austen and the comment along the lines of the way it portrays the restrictions placed upon women in the past - just like Puberty Blues. Intertextuality, woo!
  • While they took a lot of things - the horses, the panel vans, the language - straight from the book, it kinda annoyed me how the girls were wearing flares. A minor point, I know, but they make such a big deal out of straight-legged jeans in the book that the flares really stood out as wrong to me.
  • LOLPAST moments: The "hilarity" of drink driving - with your child in the car - with no seat belts. The boy who'd rather be whacked with a ruler than read a book as punishment. There was also the fact that Sue's mum only told her not to get sunburnt coz of how much she whinges, instead of, you know, skin cancer.
  • Name drops: Many "molls", "You're dropped" and "pash-off".
  • Food drops: Splices, Cheezels (five finger rings!) and Sunnyboys (taking the shape of missiles hurled at Deb and Sue).
Did you watch Puberty Blues? What did you think?


  1. I haven't read the book (some day...!) but I really enjoyed that first episode. The two girls were stand-outs, hopefully this launches them into fantastic careers!

    That drink driving scene...yikes! It's crazy to think how much life has changed in a relatively short amount of time.

    1. Agreed! It kinda gives you hope that current screwed up things can and will change!

  2. I remember watching an interview with Lette where she talked about her childhood and thinking, "whoa? Really?" It's amazing how quickly things can change.

    I'm going to be sacrilegious here and admit that I've neither read the book nor watched the show, but I absolutely promise that I will. One day.

    1. Yeah, it's pretty shocking to read the book and realise it's based on their real lives. I only read the book recently - it's super short, you'd probably storm through it in an hour!

  3. Hi Belle
    I am enjoying the show despite it almost being a pastiche of 70s bad behaviour (particularly the adults!). The drink-driving scene made me laugh and cringe and have a real pang of nostalgia for the way we were in the 70s, before the nanny state got hold of us. OK, I know drink-driving is bad, but oh dear, that scene made me laugh!

    As with the film the producers have fleshed out the families in a believable way, making Debbie and Sue themselves more likeable and three-dimensional as a result. In the book parents are incidental (but isn't that teenage life anyway?).

    Ashleigh Cummings is superb as Debbie - it took me an episode to recognise her as prim 1920s Dot from the Phryne Fisher series - and I think we are going to see a lot more of Brenna Harding (Sue). Overall the cast is fantastic and their quality as actors shows throughout the series. I love Debbie's bratty little brother.

    The book itself is short and staccato, funny and terrifying. Having watched three episodes now of the tv show and also treated myself to the 1981 film on YouTube I re-read the book this week and posted my own review of it here (shameless plug!).

    1. I agree the show is like 70s pastiche. But at the same time it's very raw. I'm glad it hasn't shied away from the nastier aspects of the story. I haven't seen the Fisher series but I've seen Ashleigh in Tomorrow When the War Began. Both her and Brenna are brilliant, and I agree the little brother is hilarious. I haven't watched the movie in awhile, I might watch it soon if I can bear it.