In Family Rules, an Indigenous mother rules the roost of nine unruly daughters
On the one hand, it’s unfortunate we even have to say: “Look! Just like us!” On the other, the reality is that our Indigenous community tends to be invisible unless there’s some catastrophe to report. So Family Rules does something important from the get-go simply by showcasing an ordinary suburban family who happen to be First Australians.
Filmed in the classic ob-doc style, Family Rules follows the Rule family as they go about their daily business. That’s widowed mum Daniella and her nine – count ’em! – daughters: Angela, Shenika, Helen, Kelly, Kiara, Sharna, Aleisha, Jessica and Hannah. And any parent of teenagers will be able to instantly relate as fights break out at the dinner table over kids glued to their devices and tears are shed over the procurement of the perfect gown for the year 12 formal. The obsession with clothes, makeup and Facebook is clearly universal.
With one of the young women, Shenika, already working as a model (she and sister Kiara both appeared on modelling talent quest The Face) there’s even a touch of the Kardashians here – but without the tedium or the appalling self-involvement. On the contrary, big-heartedness is the defining quality of both the family and the series, and the scenes in which the sisters help prepare 16-year-old Aleisha for the ball are delicious.
I would have liked to have known more about some of the older, adult daughters (after becoming a mum at 17, Daniella now also has five grandchildren) but the focus here – understandably – is on the younger kids still living at home, and through them we get all the sibling rivalry and Jan Brady moments you could hope for in a family dramedy.