Family comedy hits close to home for Lisa
KEEPING the lines of communication open with a teenager can be harder than completing a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle in self-isolation.
With three teenagers of her own, Lisa McCune can relate to the struggles of her character, working mum Em, in the new season of Ten's How To Stay Married.
She stars opposite writer/creator Peter Helliar in the family comedy about suburban parents Greg and Em Butler, their daughters Sophie and Chloe and Greg's hapless live-in brother Brad.
"My daughter is pretty much exactly the same age as Sophie. You want to be a part of their online life but of course they don't want you a part of their online life," McCune says. "You try to make your house somewhere where the kids go.
"The way Willow (Ryan-Fuller) plays Sophie is that Sophie could run the house better than her parents. She really is a smart, together girl but the more she tells her parents that the more suspicious they get.
"She's put up with a lot - she's back in a room with her little sister, she might be interested in a boy - and she's living with this funny family who have so much heart it's suffocating."
The Butler family are still adjusting to their new normal - Em has gone back to work for the first time in more than a decade and Greg is a stay-at-home dad.
"After 14 years of being at home with the kids and going back to work, she's really taking it seriously," McCune says.
"She's trying to be a working mum who's in control at home and in control at work, which is a bit harder maybe than she thought. She can't give all the control over to Greg because he runs the household in a different way. I love exploring all that stuff."
While Em finally starts writing a novel, Greg thinks a family cruise will provide the perfect antidote to all their stress.
"It's quite hysterical that one of the storylines is all Greg wants to do is take his family on a cruise - that's the last place you'd want to be (right now)," she says.
"Em gets the opportunity to do what she really loves, to be a writer, but the subject matter may be a little bit close to the bone. It's about her family and in particular her husband but she doesn't have the heart to tell Greg. The closer it gets to publication, the more it snowballs."
There's plenty of comedy gold to be mined as Greg and Em try to keep their marriage afloat in a sea of teenage dramas, money troubles, wayward turtles, career wobbles, prickly in-laws and shopping trolley malfunctions.
"Whenever I sit down and start a new script I think 'Where the hell are we going to go?' I delight in what the characters get up to. It's nice to go back for a second series - the muscles are a bit looser," McCune says.
"We meet Em's parents, who are played by Linda Cropper and Steve Bisley.
"Judith Lucy is also back as Em's boss. She's hysterical and forms quite a close relationship with Em's daughter.
"Greg tries to earn a bit of money at home and gets them into a bit of a pickle. There are so many lovely storylines this year."
Season two of How To Stay Married premieres tonight a 8.30 on Ten/WIN.