The irresistible power of nostalgia pulled me through two whole episodes of Channel Ten's new Australian drama, Puberty Blues.
I read Puberty Blues, the novel on which the series is based, when I was in high school, and I saw the movie. The show is filmed in the Sutherland Shire where I spent all my teenage years. One of the main sets is my old school, Caringbah High. Close enough to thirty years have passed since I climbed those steps and walked those halls: a purposeless teenager living for the moment, for the weekend booze up and the girls. Watching Puberty Blues took me straight back to memories so vivid I can still smell them and taste them. As soon as I recognized what was happening, I should have switched channels. This was way too close to home.
Perhaps I wanted the show to say something profound so that I could excuse its vulgarity. Perhaps, a part of me still yearns for those hedonistic days when I was the only person who mattered. Perhaps, to my shame, I simply enjoyed the titillation.
Whatever the reason, I watched a sexually frustrated husband masturbating in his bathroom, a teenager bribing her primary school aged brother with cigarettes, an eager to please teenage girl fellating some guy on the beach, a teacher staggering around drunk at a party attended by his students, an intoxicated group of parents playing strip poker, a young man buying a bag of marijuana from an ice cream van, and smoking it on his bed, and the straw that broke this camel's back: a teenage girl passively lying on the beach, in full view of her group of friends, being sexually used by her boyfriend.
I felt sad and sickened, and I still do. Puberty Blues appears to be a glorification of what is base and animalistic about humans. Young people who don't know who they are, trying hard to be someone they think they want to be, and doing things they shouldn't be doing. Following each other as they stumble through the darkness of immorality.
I thank God everyday for rescuing me from that pathetic existence.