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Literature / Puberty Blues

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Puberty Blues is a 1979 novel by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette. It was adapted into film in 1981 by Bruce Beresford and was made into a tv series in 2012.

The novel and film focus on the two main characters, teenagers Debbie Vickers and Sue Knight, as they try and get in with the 'cool crowd', the Green Hills gang. Leader of the pack is Cheryl Hayes, who makes Debbie and Sue jump through a few hoops before she accepts them. Her and the rest of the Girl Posse hang around Cronulla beach waiting for their boyfriends to emerge from the water and bring them food when asked.

Oh, and be available for sex.

The television series expands more to focus on the adults. The Vickers trying to reconnect as a couple, the Knights considering leaving the area for good and the Henneseys falling apart due to an affair.


The second season is currently broadcasting.

This work provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Gary's father Ferris who makes Gary destroy his own surfboard.
  • Adaptation Expansion
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Martin, he even gets caught later on.
  • Age Lift: Debbie and Sue are 13 in the novel, the film and the series understandably make them sixteen.
  • Alpha Bitch: Cheryl.
  • Auto Erotica: The back of a panel van is the usual location for teen sex.
  • Break Up Demand: It's very common among the Green hills gang for couples to just walk up and say to the other partner. " You're dropped."
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Debbie and Sue write on their legs to cheat in a test, and don't think they'll get caught as Cheryl does it all the time. They get caught.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Happens to Martin.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The receipt from the abortion clinic.
  • Advertisement:
  • Corporal Punishment: At school and at home. We even see Judy Vickers run up the stairs during a dinner party and whack with a wooden spoon David for putting a frog in the soup tureen.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pam Knight.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ferris at the end of season one.
  • Drunk Driver: Played for Laughs with Sue's Dad Roger and later more seriously with Darren Peters when he is killed.
    • Happens again with Roger in the second season. He's pulled over by the cops...who give him a ride home!
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Sue does this when she is dumped from the Green Hills gang.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Cheryl actually goes through with it, but she's not a good girl.
  • Housewife: Yvonne Hennesey is one of these and Pam Knight leaves work to become one.
  • Hollywood Midlife Crisis: Ferris has one of these. He has the car and younger mistress before even the series starts.
  • Idealized Sex: Averted. The sex scenes are very realistic, between the adults there's the romance but with the teens it's awkward, sweaty and for the girls, painful.
  • Lipstick Mark: Gary finds this on a cigarette and knows why his Dad is coming home late.
  • Lie Back and Think of England
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Patrick, Yvonne's new flame, walks into the kitchen to talk to Gary man to man. Gary finds this very awkward and tells him to out it away. This being television we only see it from the back.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: Averted in the series.. The directors didn't want any nostalgic montages. The only time you hear a popular song is when characters are listening to it in the scene through a stereo or radio.
  • The Mistress: Celia.
  • Of Course I Smoke: Happens when the Alpha Bitch Cheryl offers the two protagonists a cigarette as a thank you for not turning her in for cheating and, wanting to be in with the cool girls, they accept.
  • Off to Boarding School: This isn't seen as a punishment for Debbie, but her mother uses it for her to get her away from Sue's influence.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Debbie and Sue move beyond the Green Hills gang and go surfing and their parents are going very well. But they're the only ones. Cheryl has been kicked out of the gang and is spiraling out of control, and Gary's parents split and he turns to drugs.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Sue's parents Pam and Roger Knight. They're not even annoyed when Sue comes home drunk. Pam even tells Judy that she doesn't like punishing Sue as it builds up resentment.
  • Papa Wolf: Roger threatens to smash Danny if he's not a 'gentleman' to his daughter.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Constantly through the series the teenagers are smoking, drinking, doing drugs and having sex and the parents are none the wiser. And it's only Debbie's and Sue's parents who have some idea of what's going on.
  • Passing Notes in Class
  • Porn Stache: Ferris Hennesey.
  • Potty Emergency: Roger really needs to go in a meeting and tries to pee in a vase while a commercial is being shown on the television. It's audible the second they turn the television off.
  • Really Gets Around: Cheryl Hayes and the rest of the Green Hills gang
  • The '70s: The novel was a novel about the seventies that came out in the seventies.
  • Stepford Smiler: Yvonne Hennesey is one of these.
  • Skinny Dipping: Sue's parents do this while drunk.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Debbie does this to her mother.
  • Strip Poker: Sue comes home one night to find her parents playing this with their friends.
  • Surfer Dude: Well, it is set in The Shire...
  • Teen Drama
  • Teen Pregnancy: Cheryl in the first episode of Season 2.
  • Wild Teen Party: Firstly at Cheryl's place when her mother comes home to find drunk stoned teens, then at Debbie's house when David lets Cheryl and her friends in. Of course, her parents come home.
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: One of the first shots of the film is Roger Knight in short stubbies.
  • You Are Grounded: Debbie is grounded (or gated as its called) on and off through the series for various reasons.


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