The Wrong Girl: Feminist antidote to The Bachelor NZ perhaps?

Jessica Marais as Lily Woodward in The Wrong Girl.
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Jessica Marais as Lily Woodward in The Wrong Girl.

As author Zoe Foster Blake says when I apologise for not having read her book on which Aussie TV series The Wrong Girl is based, I'm not really the target demographic for this sort of thing.

But needs must, as they say, so it fell to me to interview the 36-year-old mother of one, soon to be mother of two about the show, which screened in Australia late last year to a solid, if not spectacular audience (a second series is in the works, so that says something right there).

Premiering tonight here in New Zealand on Three, The Wrong Girl follows the ups and downs of 29-year-old breakfast TV producer Lily Woodward, "as she seeks a successful romance, a dynamic career and settled family". (Thanks Wikipedia.)

Hamish Blake provides comic relief in The Wrong Girl as Hamilton the TV weatherman.
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Hamish Blake provides comic relief in The Wrong Girl as Hamilton the TV weatherman.

Speaking on the phone from Melbourne, Foster Blake (she tacked Blake on the end of her maiden name Foster after marrying Hamish Blake, one half of the Australian comedy duo Hamish & Andy, in 2012) says she's "particularly proud" of the TV show, which was adapted from her fourth novel, published in 2014.

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"It's got a strong feminist angle - female protagonist, female head writer, strong female characters all through the cast, written by a female, and it's for young women," she says.

Breakfast TV producer Lily Woodward finds herself in the middle of a love triangle in The Wrong Girl.
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Breakfast TV producer Lily Woodward finds herself in the middle of a love triangle in The Wrong Girl.

"I think there was a bit of a gap for good, Australian-made television for women in their 20s and 30s in that confused sort of time of their life - they're not married, they're not having babies, it's all about their career and boyfriends, and they're just sort of getting their life together."

"And it goes into areas of female friendship that don't get explored too much on Australian TV - we would usually look to Girls or something for that. So I was really proud of that part of it, because female friendship is a huge part of our lives, particularly when we're single."

Hmmm. Maybe MediaWorks had this in mind when scheduling The Wrong Girl directly after The Bachelor NZ - something like a feminist antidote to the preceding hour of female objectification perhaps?

Whatever the case, at least partial credit for the show's appeal must surely go to established Australian actress Jessica Marais, of Packed To The Rafters and Love Child fame.

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Marais certainly shines in the lead role - the 'wrong girl' of the title - as she navigates the turbulent waters of workplace relationships, unrequited love (or lust) and maintaining her integrity in the increasingly tabloid world of breakfast television.

And The Wrong Girl also boasts a more than capable supporting cast, from newcomers Hayley Magnus and Rob Collins to veterans like Craig McLachlan (Neighbours, The Doctor Blake Mysteries) and Madeleine West (Satisfaction, Underbelly, Fat Tony & Co).

Rounding off the cast list is Foster Blake's husband Hamish, who brings his unique comedic sensibilities to the role of TV weatherman Hamilton.

Anticipating a bit of family time on set, Foster Blake once brought their two-year-old son Sonny along to see his dad in action - a decision she came to regret.

"Of course my son is too young and just squawked and screamed through a really quiet and serious moment, so that only lasted 10 minutes," she reveals.

"But Hamish is beautiful, just some comic relief - and he had great fun doing it. I think it was fun to play with the audience by putting him in there - and I even get myself in later in the season in a tiny little role, just to have a blast."

"Not in an arrogant, trying to be Hitchcock way, but more like a little Easter egg - just a little funny moment!"

The Wrong Girl, Three, Mondays, 8.45pm

 - Stuff

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