Length: 10 x episodes (30 minutes each)
Confession time: your humble word-janitor had zero interest in reviewing Bump. That’s not to throw shade on the production, you understand, but it just didn’t appeal. From the trailers it appeared to be yet another Australian drama with decent production values, quality acting and a plot straight from the Generic Story Factory.
A yarn about a teenage girl getting pregnant in high school? Starring Claudia (features-in-literally-every-second-Aussie-TV-show) Karvan? It looked like a friendly but firm ‘yeah, nah’ from here, readers.
Well, apologies to Stan, the production team and Claudia Karvan, because Bump is an absolute cracker and one of the freshest Aussie dramas in ages.
Bump makes its mission statement quickly and with a minimum of fuss. It’s the story of smart, ambitious schoolgirl Oly Chambers (Nathalie Morris) who is really going places. She is loved by her mum Angie (Claudia Karvan), her hopeless dad Dom (Angus Sampson), and similarly studious boyfriend Lachie (Peter Thurnwald), with whom she has not had sex because they’re sensibly waiting until “after the HSC.”
One fateful morning, Oly goes to school and starts feeling a bit crook. She runs to the toilet to have a spew, feels dramatically worse and is rushed to the hospital. In the ambulance, on the way, it’s revealed she’s giving birth. To a human baby. That she had no idea she was pregnant with. And the baby isn’t Lachie’s.
We should mention, she starts popping the sprog at ten minutes and twenty seconds into the first episode! This is one of the best things about Bump, there’s no pissfarting about. Each of the ten episodes is about 30 minutes long and not a single second is wasted on the usual boring bloat that plagues stories like this.
Also, the scripts are smart, and go places you might not expect. Once Oly gives birth and the nurse offers for her to hold the baby, she snarls: “get that thing away from me.” Later, when she’s told the kid is a girl, she quips: “Bit early to impose your gender norms.”
So, yeah, at times Oly can be kind of a brat - but what do you expect from someone getting unexpectedly preggers in year eleven?
Bump is full of nicely observed details. There’s frank discussion of sex, losing menstural cups internally, masturbation and the best lube to use (it’s all about the viscosity, according to Lachie). The actual father of the kid, Santi (Carlos Sanson Jr), works out he’s the baby daddy while ripping a bong hit!
This isn’t the often dull and sanitized view of teenage life you’re used to seeing in Aussie gear on commercial telly, but nor is it exaggerated for prurient purposes in the manner the Yanks and Poms so often delight in. There’s truth here, entertainingly realised and offered without judgement.
Performances are uniformly excellent, with Nathalie Morris providing a believably uptight (occasionally realistically unpleasant) protagonist, and Claudia Karvan (who co-created the show) does excellent work in a role that allows her to showcase her acting chops. The fact she’s in the early stages of a relationship with Matias Hernandez (Ricardo Scheihing), Santi’s dad (!), offers yet more delicious drama and comedy.
Plus, major kudos belongs to Carlos Sanson Jr, who elevates what could be a rather thankless role as the dumb but hunky jock with a secret artistic side, to a genuinely believable, gentle young man.
Quality drama, wry, knowing humour and rock solid performances, Bump is as unexpected as its titular pregnancy and twice as welcome. Ignore your first instinct and internalised cultural cringe, and give this surprising Aussie gem a red hot go.
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