Let’s kick off the year with a show that ticks a few extra boxes, shall we?
Family Rules on NITV turns the camera on contemporary Indigenous women living in Perth. Right there you have a bunch of words that are already left behind by the majority of what’s on Free to Air.
Daniella Rule is matriarch to nine (yes nine) daughters aged 12 – 29: Angela, Shenika, Helen, Kelly, Kiara, Sharna, Aleisha, Jessica and Hannah. Tragically, her husband died as a result of a one-hit coward punch.
But in this 6 part observational series produced by Metamorflix, we watch a family dynamic juggle personalities, daily life and individuality from an decidedly female-perspective. Cleverly, the series has just a dash of the Kardashians about it, with occasional tugs of war and reality tropes that makes it surprisingly accessible.
“The best thing about the Rule family is it’s big,” declares one daughter.
“There’s 9 of us girls and we’re crazy,” adds another.
“We fight lots.”
But mum Daniella reveals, “My girls are my life. All 9 of them. They inspire me.”
Each episode profiles a different daughter (doing the sums, I guess 3 of them miss out). The premiere episode chooses 17 year old Aleisha, as she prepares for her Year 12 formal. With a bling dress and a silver hummer, it isn’t very formal, but it’s importance is no less significant.
Aleisha admits she has “the cheekiest mouth” of the sisters. She happily cakes on the make-up, loves social media and is known for being stubborn. Hey, she’s 17, who isn’t….?
But model sister Shenika says ‘no’ to a dress Aleisha wants to wear and shoots down her confidence. With the help of mum and sisters, she is then on a quest to find the perfect dress for the formal.
She also has a work placement at an AFL stadium and plans to put her savings towards hair extensions, a first lesson towards the rewards of employment.
“Getting paid and stuff, now I can buy what I want. It motivates you,” she explains.
Mum Daniella works as an Indigenous Education Officer at Aleisha’s school. There’s a brief explanation of her becoming a mother at 17 and putting her life on hold.
“I want them to finish high school, because I didn’t finish,” she says. “I don’t want them giving up on their dream.”
It’s impossible not to notice Daniella has a nice, suburban home and a dependable car. Seriously give this woman a medal for raising 9 kids over 30 years and not living on the breadline.
That said, there is some friction over budgeting with Aleisha hoping her sisters may chip in for the costs of her outfit. Good luck with that.
Family Rules is a sweet, vibrant, and occasionally frenetic look at an Indigenous family getting on with modern life. At the heart of it all is unconditional love from Daniella, endeavouring to instil some basic values in her noisy, spirited clan. At 30 mins each episode, finally a series that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
As Daniella emerges dressed up to the nines for her big night she reveals, “I couldn’t have done it without my mum and my sisters.”
But wait. Younger sister Jessica is waiting in the wings to dress up like a princess next year.
Family Rules airs 7:30pm Monday January 9 on NITV.