Nine’s ‘Bad Mothers’ mixes mirth and murder

The cast of ‘Bad Mothers’

As parents, Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang agreed that being a mother can be an impossible job and that no matter how hard they try, women will sometimes feel they are bad mothers.

The Auckland-based founders of Filthy Productions came up with the concept of a comedy-drama about five mums whose kids go to the same school, overlaid with a murder mystery, and pitched it to the Nine Network.

Execs at Nine suggested Strawhan and Lang find an Australian partner, which turned out to be Jungle Entertainment. The result is Bad Mothers, which launches on Nine at 9 pm on February 18 and across the ditch on TVNZ on February 20.

The ensemble show stars Tess Haubrich as Sarah, whose perfect life as a GP, wife and mother is shattered when she discovers her husband Anton (Daniel MacPherson) is having an affair. Even worse, her best friend is found murdered and Anton is arrested.

Melissa George plays Charlotte, the president of the P&C, together with Jessica Tovey as Danielle, an outgoing woman at a career crossroads, Shalom Brune-Franklin as Bindy, a wild child party animal, and Mandy McElhinney as Maddie, who is embroiled in an acrimonious child custody dispute.

Don Hany is Charlotte’s husband Kyle, Steve Bastoni is Danielle’s husband Tom and Michala Banas is Jesse, Maddie’s ex.

“They are a diverse bunch of characters – single, partnered, LGBTQI, good and bad,” the Adelaide-born Strawhan, who moved across the Tasman 25 years ago, tells IF.

“We did not want it to be just another ensemble drama so we came up with the murder angle. The show has an emotional punch as well as lots of comic moments.”

Geoff Bennett, Sian Davies and Catriona McKenzie directed the series produced by Jungle’s Chloe Rickard and Filthy Productions’ Steven Zanoski, with scripts by Lang, Strawhan, Tim Lee and Sarah Walker. Phil Lloyd helped as script editor.

Nine is giving the show a terrific timeslot, right after Married At First Sight, currently the hottest series on free-to-air. Naturally the producers are hoping for a renewal.

“We resolve the main story at the end of the series but the characters could create a lot of new stories for a long time,” he says. “It was very cool to work with Jungle; we hit it off very well from our first meeting.”

Screen Australia funded the series in association with Film Victoria and support from Create NSW. The international distributor is Red Arrow, which is handling Jungle’s ABC comedy Squinters.

Strawhan and Lang created Hyde & Seek, which was produced by Matchbox Pictures for Nine, and the Kiwi series Dirty Laundry and Filthy Rich and Lang co-created Outrageous Fortune.