Andrew Mercado on TV: Drama & laughs with Playing For Keeps, Black Comedy

Now we have a drama about AFL football and that is a risky proposition when half the country prefers NRL.

It’s great to see so many of my favourite women on TV. Kerri-Anne is on Studio 10, Amanda Keller is going to co-host Dancing With The Stars, Gretel Killeen and Meshel Laurie are doing a live version of Go Back To Where You Came From and Madeleine West is the star of TEN’s new Aussie drama, Playing For Keeps, starting next Wednesday.

There are several Aussie shows already competing with each other on that night, but some are struggling. Back In Very Small Business is not funny at all and Bite Club is a disappointing dud. Now we have a drama about AFL football and that is a risky proposition when half the country prefers NRL. But like Footballers’ Wives, a UK drama that traversed similar ground, this is a show about the wives and girlfriends of the players.

Madeleine West in Playing For Keeps

Madeleine West plays the coach’s wife Kath and she is sensational, with a fabulous wardrobe and an even wilder sex life. That is a boring name though, given every actress in the show has a much more glamorous moniker in real life (Olympia Valance, Cece Peters and Isabella Giovanazzo).

Playing For Keeps describes itself as “dangerous” but it’s about as dangerous as a perfume made for Chemist Warehouse (and I suspect that’s where Tahlia by Tahlia will end up, the self-titled fragrance from Olympia Valance’s character). Tahlia is meant to be the mean girl but “when you get to know her, she’s actually really nice”.

I like Playing For Keeps and its likable cast, but the promos suggest it’s going to be an even bitchier version of The Real Housewives Of Melbourne and, given every reality show today features monstrous women, where is the monster in this? Playing For Keeps might come across as playing it too safe, and in today’s crowded schedule, how else do you get people to notice you? People still talk about that night back in 2002 when Chardonnay’s (Susie Amy) boobs caught on fire in Footballers’ Wives. Is it wrong that I want an Aussie version to be even more outrageous than that?

Next Wednesday also sees the return of Black Comedy, a show that understands how being outrageous is the way to go viral. After Ten’s Pilot Week, there has been much talk about how hard it is to do an Aussie sketch comedy, but this ABC show has always been a quiet achiever. Some of the originals have not returned for this third series (Deborah Mailman, Steven Oliver), and they are sorely missed, but with some promising newcomers and guest stars (Mia Wasikowska, Adam Goodes), there is a lot to enjoy here.

ABC’s Black Comedy

Next Wednesday, start with Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, switch over to Playing For Keeps, and end your night with Bondi Blackfella, one of the more hilarious new skits on Black Comedy.

Top Photo: Cast of TEN’s Playing For Keeps

White people (with guest Mia Wasikowska) in Black Comedy


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