Aussie comedy tackles the mother of all challenges
ANY mum who has stayed up until the early hours of the morning decorating cupcakes or wrapping gifts for the perfect birthday party will relate to the new season of The Letdown.
The Aussie comedy series charts the hilarious and heartbreaking parental trials and tribulations of new mum Audrey (played by co-creator Alison Bell) as she rallies against sleep deprivation, social pressures and a career-focused husband.
The season premiere opens in the lead-up to baby Stevie's first birthday. The celebration is a fraught, over-catered, over-prepared extravaganza that triggers Audrey's anxiety and competitive spirit.
"We wanted to come out of the gate with a fairly relatable, fun story," Bell tells The Guide.
"The first birthday loomed pretty large in my life when my son reached that milestone.
"It just felt like a delightful, insane place to begin. Many of our friends had similar stories or we had been to several parties where we'd experienced it. There was heaps of comedy to mine and it was a really easy way of getting the gang (the mothers group) back together."
The series was conceived as a pilot for the ABC's Comedy Showroom initiative, and is now co-produced by streaming giant Netflix, where it has gained an international following.
"It was thrilling when the ABC got on board and then when Neflix said this could work all over the world we went 'What? Huh?'. It was a very big show of support for what we were doing," Bell says.
"What's interesting about working with Netflix for us is they were extremely hands off. The executives gave us the brief to write whatever stories we needed to write.
"They've put all the power and responsibility in the hands of the creators and they just let us run with it, which is quite an unusual relationship.
"People find the shows and watch them or not. If your show gets viewed by the right numbers, which they will never tell us, then you get a second series; it's pretty Darwinian. If there is a market for it they will keep supporting it."
When approaching the second season, Bell and her co-creator Sarah Scheller had no interest in neutralising the Australian elements of the show to cater to international viewers.
"It's been surprising and thrilling for Sarah and I to learn that the show resonates across cultural borders," Bell says.
"There was every chance when it landed on Netflix it would be just one of the thousands of shows on the streaming site. So, it would seem babies all over the world are the same and the demands on their parents are pretty much the same. We cunningly chose a very universal topic.
"We didn't really write stories in a different way. We still use words like pram and nappies. So long as everything is contextualised and natural we didn't alter our content in any substantial way."
The second season of The Letdown looks beyond nappy changes and breastfeeding to examine Audrey's family unit.
"Season one was very much about the identity crisis of parenthood. In season two we moved away from that and more into family, the home and how you navigate life with a family," she says.
"We all make a thousand decisions a day, and we wanted to look at how they impact the rest of your family."
Season two of The Letdown premieres on Wednesday, May 29 at 9pm on ABC-TV.