Susie Porter steps back in time
"I absolutely love doing period stuff," says Puberty Blues star Susie Porter.
Wildside, Big Sky, Water Rats, The Secret Life of Us, RAN: Remote Area Nurse, Love My Way, East of Everything, My Place, Sisters of War, The Jesters, Dance Academy, Dangerous Remedy, Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms, Problems, Underbelly: Squizzy and Puberty Blues.
Four of the last five projects have all been period pieces. But while Porter relishes the work, it’s not a pre-requisite.
“I absolutely love doing period stuff. But I don’t know, it’s just the gigs you get,” she says.
“A lot of the time Australians never did period stuff, because it was too expensive.
“Obviously it’s a trend. Whatever they do overseas we kind of follow.”
In the ’70s-based TEN drama, Puberty Blues, she plays Pam Knight, the liberal-living mother of teenager Sue (Brenna Harding) and parter of Roger (Dan Wyllie). The first season of the television series has shifted focus from the original novel by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, while the second ventures into original storylines.
“There was never a Pam and a Roger in the original book. Judy (Claudia Karvan) and Martin (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor) were never in the book,” she explains.
“The book and the movie were based far more on the kids, rather than the parents. Whereas this is obviously has the main focus on the kids but the parents are developed a bit more.
“I wouldn’t say they’re stereotypical but they’re highly identifiable in the way that they are. We’re the relaxed kind of family.
“Judy and Martin are stricter parents.”
Porter says the series has crossed generations in its appeal, citing audience reactions that contrast how older and younger viewers experience the themes, music and social standards.
“Older people say ‘Oh my God that reminded me of my childhood.’ It takes them back and they can identify with stuff that they had in their own individual experiences,” she recalls.
“But for younger people, because the themes are universal… obviously things are different with social media and the internet. It’s faster-paced stuff but essentially it’s all the same. Growing up, sex, periods, falling in love, orgasms –it’s all the same thing, in a way.
“The younger people that I’ve spoken to absolutely love it whereas people my age reminisce.”
Puberty Blues has attracted critical acclaim and picked up the AACTA Award for Most Outstanding Drama series. While the network struggles with ratings, TEN’s drama output has been its star performer.
As Porter’s experience notes, the buzz around some shows can be just as valuable as the ratings.
“There’s a vibe around certain things. Not all great things rate.”
Puberty Blues airs 8:30pm Wednesdays on TEN.