Bump season two review – the smart, satisfying show that keeps growing on you

Bump isn’t the kind of production one is likely to describe as kitchen sink drama, or vérité, or any other cerebral-sounding words – it is too accessible and unassuming.

And yet this very enjoyable and intelligently made series, co-created by Claudia Karvan and Kelsey Munro, is presented in a “window to the world” style, sustaining the sense of realism apparent from the very first episode but increasingly manifest over its arc.

The show’s premise – and the focus of its very first episode – illustrates what my colleague Brigid Delaney described as a “real-life urban myth”. On a seemingly normal day, the astute and opinionated year 11 student Oly (Nathalie Morris) packs her lunch, goes to school and then gives birth –without even knowing she’s pregnant.

Before long Oly, knocked for six, is yelling at a nurse in hospital who is holding her baby to “get that thing away from me!” – an early indication that the show isn’t going to take a sappy approach to parenthood and family.

It is also an early indication of Oly’s unpredictable, bolshie behaviour – which sometimes feels innocuous, sometimes a little confronting, but is always rooted in thoughtfully drawn characterisation. The most satisfying element of the series, throughout the first season and now into its second, is the development of Oly’s character, thanks in no small part to a fine performance from Nathalie Morris – who is so wholly “her” that the idea of somebody else playing the part is almost unthinkable.

Audiences return to a show like this not for visual flashiness or witty writing, but for characters with whom they become increasingly familiar and – if the series is jiving the way it should – increasingly attached to, almost as if they’re people in our own world. In Bump, their lives per se are not necessarily eventful but filled with circumstances earnestly treated by the writers and directors as opportunities to develop our relationship with them.

There are other strong characters too – including Oly’s parents, Angie (the ever-charming Karvan) and Dom (Angus Sampson, in his most interesting Australian performance since his butt-clenching role in The Mule), who are separated but still on relatively good terms. Plus there’s Oly’s former boyfriend Lochie (Peter Thurnwald), who came out in the first season; the father of Oly’s baby, Santi (Carlos Sanson Jnr), who is an emotionally sensitive stoner; and Santi’s parents, Bernadite (Claudia de Giusti) and Matias (Ricardo Scheihing Vasquez), the latter with whom Angie becomes romantically and perhaps regretfully entwined.

Season two begins by exploring a question that has bemused and befuddled every human society since time immemorial: “Why do boys draw cocks on walls?” I half expected a flashback to early humans painting on the walls of the Lascaux caves or some such wondrous ancient location, stepping back and admiring their lewd art. But this scene is already a jump back in time – to a moment in Santi’s childhood, during which a younger Bernadite raises the aforementioned question and also wonders why doodles of vulvas are nowhere near as ubiquitous as cock and balls.

The ensuing dramas (this review encompasses season two’s first three eps) are large and small, spanning everything from big emotional events to icky scenes with body fluids. The former involves the fallout from Angie and Matias’s dalliance, and an example of the latter occurs when Santi sucks the snot out of his baby’s nose. According to his stoner pal, he clearly enjoyed the moment: “Babies can’t blow their own noses; it’s the only way.” In this scene some parents will nod their heads and say to themselves, “Yeah, I’d do that for my kid.” Everybody else will think, “That’s friggin gross.”

At times Bump comes across as a little too effortless, the writers prioritising events that don’t feel particularly significant – as if the real drama is elsewhere, in some other scene that hasn’t been depicted. That’s part of the appeal of “window to the world”-style productions, implying that we are observing only one impression of the narrative universe.

It takes no effort to return to this world, that’s for sure: the tone is light but meaningful, and the characters keep growing on you.

Comments are closed.