Satisfaction: articles

Still mad about Mel

THE location may have changed for TV series Satisfaction, but little else has in this lavish drama focusing on the relationships between women involved in prostitution.

At season one's cliff-hanger ending, Nick (Robert Mammone), owner of the upmarket brothel 232, lay in a pool of blood after being stabbed.

His lover Mel (Madeleine West) was waiting for him to view a house to start their new domesticated life together, with Mel planning to give up her job as a sex worker.

Since fi nishing Satisfaction's fi rst series, West has been busy.

She starred in Nine's gangland hit, Underbelly; the medical drama Canal Road, and became a mum for the second time with son Hendrix.

West says she was hooked by Satisfaction the moment she read the script.

"I just thought how fantastic, an Australian drama with women that is female-centric and written by women," she says. "Often when there is a drama about women it seems to come from a male perspective and is a little more voyeuristic and a little more simplifi ed in what womanhood means, what we do and our levels of empowerment in relation to society as a whole.

"Satisfaction isn't that at all, even though the subject matter is much more taboo. The series focuses on the natural fl aws and stumbling blocks that women do encounter in terms of their journey - it is very rich."

That the first series was a hit doesn't surprise West.

"There were the cliched footy fans - the male crowd who watched saying, 'Cop the norks on that' - but there's also a huge band of female fans of all ages who stop me in the street to say, 'God it is fabulous.' It touches on a subject everyone knows about and is aware that it's out there, but it's still one of the last great taboos.

Men and women are intrigued by it. It makes for rich, diverse story telling with a wealth of characters that can come into it."

West auditioned for several other roles in the series, telling her agent not to put her up for the character of Mel as she was nothing like her. "I could not see myself in the role at all," she says. "I didn't think I could pull it off, but I was asked to audition and I got the part. The way we see ourselves is never the way we are seen from someone else's eyes.

"The more I learn about her the more I adore her. I think Mel depicts a modern woman in the real world - she is expected to be powerful, in charge of her own destiny, cold, distant and in control - but by the same token she is vulnerable. Her vulnerability only comes into play when no one is watching - but she is not afraid to be a bitch and really cutting, which makes it really rich for me."

This season, viewers meet two new people in Mel's life - her mother Gillian, played by Jackie Weaver, and her brother Sean, played by WAAPA graduate Dustin Clare, better known as Riley Ward on McLeod's Daughters.

Helen Ganska
November 30, 2008
Sunday Herald Sun