There are times we can be grateful for being behind international trends.
In London the kids burn homes, loot shops, attack police and turn on their own communities. In Brisbane the worst you can do is go on a drinking binge, throw a wild hotel party, insult your parents and damage school property. That is, according to FOX8’s new teen drama SLiDE.
Built around the notion of ‘sliding’ from youth into adulthood, the 5 Brisbane-based characters are aged 17, leaving high school, embarking on sexual exploits, and at a point where there are opportunities to drive, drink, leave home and enter the world of employment (or unemployment).
In the premiere episode Ed (Ben Schumann) is having his 17th birthday party. His plan for a rage in a hotel room is detoured firstly by his very-square parents throwing a surprise party, complete with relatives and charades, and secondly by his friends being evicted from the hotel venue after running out of control.
The hotel is managed by Scarlett’s (Emily Iris Robins) obnoxious father (Ben Oxenbould). He has no time for his ungrateful daughter. Friends Luke (Brenton Thwaites) and Tammy (Gracie Gilbert) are also thrown out on their ear. Emo-gal Eva (Adele Perovic) is the fifth member of the gang, whose rebellious nature in school detention has shades of Breakfast Club.
But Ed’s big night becomes a chain of misadventures and delinquency that sees them wind up before the police. Each episode, we are told, will take place over 24 hours and involve a ‘group heist’ and first-time life experiences.
The 2 boys and 3 girls interact as a mix of best friends, platonic friends, unresolved sexual tension, and middle-class upbringing. They are big on SMS, social media and fashion.
With its ensemble characters, recklessness and coming of age it is hard not to pigeon-hole the show as an ‘Australian Skins.’ But this is lighter in tone, if less emotional. Bris-Vegas offers a little more hope and sunshine than bleak Bristol, but in its first outing there isn’t as much character either -perhaps it will come.
Foxtel is to be commended for setting the series in Brisbane, with too many dramas opting for Sydney and Melbourne.
The young cast are very good with Ben Schumann and Adele Perovic as early standouts. Brenton Thwaites is distractingly good-looking.
As if to instil an “us and them” canyon, adult roles here are incidental, too easily depicted as ignorant, cantankerous, dim and abusing their authority. It’s an easy by-product of the genre. If only they could see the world through the eyes of our kids….
To drive the energy, Director Shawn Seet makes the most of filming with hand-held cameras. The soundtrack’s rock and indie score and some nifty on-screen graphics add to its youthful feel.
But for all the tricks and teases everything still rests upon story, and the first episode spends a little too much time on self-centred Gen Y at the expense of establishing sympathetic characters.
With a little growing up this could yet develop into something very engaging.
SLiDE airs 7:30pm Tuesdays on FOX8.