When I published my blog post on the TV Week 2019 Previews issue, I said that one of many shows I am looking forward to seeing and reviewing is Bad Mothers—and the pilot certainly didn’t disappoint.
The purpose of a pilot is to establish a show’s premise and characters. In the Previews Issue, the premise of Bad Mothers was described as a “group of ordinary mothers who are rocked by a murder. Suddenly their seemingly normal lives are turned upside down.” I felt that the pilot established this premise almost perfectly.
The pilot kicks off by showing a dead woman by her stairwell next to a pile of her own blood and then quickly switches to Dr Sarah Pooley (Tess Haubrich) telling her story to police about how she was worried about the state of her marriage. From there the pilot goes back to the past (although how long ago it was isn’t established, but it clearly wasn’t too long) and stays there before time and the story catch up with themselves at the end of the episode.
As Sarah is the one telling her story, it is mostly her that the pilot revolves around. Yes, the other Bad Mothers: Bindy Burridge (Shalom Brune-Franklin), Charlotte Evans (Melissa George), Maddie Hicks (Mandy McElhinney) and Danielle Hicks (Jessica Tovey) are introduced to the viewers, we don’t really find out all that much about them.
Sarah’s story goes back to the night of a school fundraiser being held at her husband, Anton’s (Daniel McPherson) restaurant where Bindy, Maddie and Danielle are loud, crazy and slightly drunk, whilst Charlotte and Sarah look down on them as the “loser mums”. I was surprised to see that the group was in fact divided and they weren’t all friends to begin with, but it was a pleasant surprise, as it provided more opportunities for character development. At the restaurant, Sarah gets into a fight with Bindy, and then Anton when she believes he has been cheating on her with Bindy, an accusation which he adamantly refutes.
We are then taken to the school yards, where again the group is split up and the kids are shown. Sarah and Anton have two children: Eve and Xavier. Bindy is single and gave birth to her daughter, London, at 17. Charlotte has a high school aged son, Julius, and a primary school aged daughter, Lucy. Maddie has a son, Max, and her sister-in-law, Danielle is a stepmum to two children. The “hot teacher”, Mr Jasic, comes by and checks out the chicks Danielle brought for the class’ caring project, and Bindy reveals that she has in fact not slept with Anton, despite a history of sleeping with some of her clients.
Sarah then tries to make up with Anton by suggesting they have lunch together, but she has trouble getting him on the phone, with one of his staff members telling her he’s gone to the gym. She finds Bindy there first (she’s a personal trainer) who gets a few jabs in Sarah, before they both see Anton getting into a car with a woman. Bindy is the first to see who the woman is, however she’s not revealed until Sarah follows them and catches up with them at a Hotel, and of course the woman is Charlotte. This reveal didn’t surprise me and I was disappointed with the “best friend and husband having an affair” cliche.
Sarah confronts Anton, which in all honesty was too much of a cliche to be worth reviewing, what was more interesting was when she confronted Charlotte on the school grounds. While the confrontation was more interesting, it was still cliche, however what adds to it is the fact it leads to Sarah bonding with the other mothers as they offer to comfort her, especially Bindy, who she falsely accused of having an affair with Anton in the first place. I enjoyed their bonding scenes, especially when they went to Danielle’s house and were talking about Sarah right in front of her, as well as the scene of Bindy filming Sarah putting Vegemite on Charlotte’s windscreen wipers. I found the latter to be the oddest but most Aussie kind of revenge ever.
Afterwards, Mr Jasic calls Maddie in to speak about an unfortunate incident involving her son, Max—his chick has died, although Max insists that it’s Lucy chick. This leads to Maddie crossing paths with Charlotte in her extravagant home and taking her dog, after Charlotte doesn’t care about the situation.
Danielle ends up crossing Charlotte’s path after the latter tries to pull the plug on the caring project after making it political, and again doesn’t care, and also points out Danielle’s obvious crush on Mr Jasic. Although her problem with her is resolved when the principal ends up siding with her about the caring project. When Mr Jasic assumes her slightly older husband Tom (Steve Bastoni) is her father, it’s clear that he has a crush on her too.
After Charlotte gets into a minor car crash due to the Vegemite on the windscreen wipers, Sarah goes to apologise to her and although Sarah is still hurt, her and Charlotte come to some sort of understanding in regards to their role as mothers and Charlotte reveals that things between her and her own husband, Kyle (Don Hany) haven’t been great. I found this scene to be well played and somewhat realistic as Sarah hasn’t forgiven Charlotte, but also doesn’t portray a cliche wronged woman.
The episode ends with the discovery of Charlotte’s dead body by Maddie when she returns her dog and picks up Max’s chick in exchange. Which brings us back to the present, Sarah’s interview is concluded and she is met outside by the girls.
Just as things are starting to look on the mend for Anton and Sarah, the police come to their door to arrest Anton. Sarah then goes back to the kids to take care of them, I thought that the look on her face was revealing she was the murderer, however it’s possibly just a look of shock.
Overall I found this to be a well done pilot—the acting was decent and the writing was tight with every connection between the mothers explained, although the exploration of all of the mothers wasn’t very deep. Even though her character has been killed off, I hope it’s not the last we see of Melissa George, but I’m sure she will be shown in flashbacks. I was left wondering whether the writers have written the show with the intention of everyone telling their story to the police, especially as Kyle, Anton and the mothers would all have a motive (even if they all haven’t been revealed yet).
I’m looking forward to reviewing the rest of the season.
Best one liners and interactions:
- “Incredible! You brought your own kid to school!” “Ugh, mum made me!” (Maddie-Bindy)
- “They do it once, they’ll do it again! No amount of sexy underwear and interesting toys will change that.” (Maddie to Sarah on Anton cheating)
- “Whatever you do, do not leave the house or you’ll find yourself a single mother in rented accommodation who hasn’t had sex in so long she’s forgotten how.” (Maddie to Sarah)