We are back to our family cookbook. Remember the recipe. The ingredients – People we are born to. People we meet. Add in friends that become family. Toss in the matriarch and patriarch of the much-loved recipe. Add in the kids and whisk together.
This time the recipe has changed slightly. The original basics are the same of course but we must complete it now. Look on it as garnish. Now we add to our familiar recipe, workmates, best friends, and new family members. This time we cook for slightly longer too.
What do we come out with when it’s all said and done? We still get our beloved Rafter recipe but with a few additions that come from the six years since we have last been in their company.
As we go “Back” to the Rafters, we are granted a recap of what’s happened in the missing time since we have seen them. They have been on the road for 6 years with pitstops here and there along with regular trips back to get together with family. After a breakdown outside Buradeena, Dave, Julie and Ruby decide to set up home. Here is where we find them.
6 Rafter episodes
Across the 6 episodes, the Rafters examine contemporary issues, issues that we have all faced in our everyday lives. They are issues relating to 2021. We see homelessness due to a defective building, infertility, climate change and the effect this has on young Ruby, parents in aged care and city v country.
City v country is played out in an emotionally charged separation of the Rafter matriarch and patriarch. When one wants city and one wants country, what gives? Who gives? Should you give in for the other person? Do you give in and compromise even if it makes you desperately unhappy?
Back to the Rafters has not tried to reinvent the wheel. It’s not tried to take the family and bring it back in an identical way. The dynamics have changed. The family have changed emotionally and of course behaviors and needs change.
Julie and Dave
Julie and Dave remain integral throughout the episodes, an asset to everyone’s story. But it is their internal conflict that is the overarching arc that holds the series firmly in its place. Julie wants to be there for everyone in the city while Dave is firmly ensconced in Buradeena, happy to have rediscovered his identity.
Nathan is a single dad with young Edward, and homeless after his apartment block has structural faults. His work life is suffering, and he realizes, like his mum, he needs to find himself. He needs to discover what his life is to be. Rachel, played beautifully by Georgina Haig, is in New York working hard and is also pregnant, something she has not told the family. Georgina stepped into the role after Jessica Marais and has made the role her own.
Ben is married to Cassie who is pregnant. Hugh Sheridan displays a change in Ben in Back to the Rafters. There is a new maturity to the older Ben, one that we didn’t see in PTTR when he was living with Carbo. Bringing up the rear is Ruby. Congratulations Willow Speer, the young actress that plays Ruby. Willow has embodied everything that as a fan I expected to see in Ruby. She has the precociousness as well as some vulnerabilities. She is knowledgeable and not afraid to take risks. She tries to grow up but equally when around Edward, she seems to remember that it is ok to be a child too. Ruby is a happy mix of her mum Julie and sister Rachel. There are elements of both clearly visible in the performance and that is testament to Willow.
Why does BTTR work so well?
BTTR as well as its “Packed” predecessor, works well for a simple reason. Its ordinary. Some may think that is a negative or a criticism, but it most certainly isn’t. Rafters (In both forms!) gives you real life. Every viewer can relate to something that has happened. Whether it be, feeling unsettled in life, moving, parents in aged care, pregnancy and single parents, the viewer can put themselves in Rafter shoes. Those Rafter shoes feel real.
BTTR takes the ordinary of life. Add in sublime on screen chemistry between everyone (and I mean everyone). Add in amazing actors. Add in incredibly maturity and promise from the youngest cast members.
The series is much shorter than die-hard Rafters fans would like, myself included. I would love to see them around for a couple more seasons. While some endings were tied up nicely in this season, there were some others that could be further examined. The fact that Rebecca Gibney as Julie said at the end …” But that’s another story” leaves me hoping that we will hear more from them.