Ups and downs of a bou­tique brothel

Sat­is­fac­tion 8.30pm, Show­case

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

‘‘ I’M a sex worker. What part of that don’t you get?’’ This ironic rephras­ing of the old fem­i­nist slo­gan about the word ‘‘ no’’ per­fectly sums up the new Aus­tralian drama Sat­is­fac­tion, one of sev­eral big- bud­get se­ries start­ing this week on the new paytele­vi­sion chan­nel Show­case. Nat­u­rally, if the girls are go­ing to be this whole­some, this beau­ti­ful and this good in bed, some of the clients ( words such as ‘‘ john’’ and ‘‘ trick’’ have no place at the up- mar­ket brothel 232) are go­ing to want to take them out of the world’s old­est pro­fes­sion and into the real world, where they can show them off, buy them din­ner, and fall in love.

The five girls and their man­ager make quite a co­hort.

Though we are briefly in­tro­duced to all of them tonight, each episode seems to fo­cus on one par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter, how she deals with be­ing a pros­ti­tute, how she in­ter­acts with clients and how she in­te­grates the job into the rest of her life.

Al­though the words at the top fall from the mouth of Tippi ( Bo­jana No­vakovic), tonight’s de­but episode fo­cuses mainly on Chloe ( Diana Glenn). Chloe is not the madam, though she has been of­fered the job, but she is eu­phemisti­cally de­scribed as ‘‘ the long­est serv­ing worker’’ at 232. Per­haps to prove that the lives of pros­ti­tutes are com­plex and con­tra­dic­tory, Chloe goes out in search of a reg­u­lar she has been see­ing on the first Tues­day of ev­ery month ( clearly not a Jen­nifer Byrne fan), who stops turn­ing up. His lies un­fold be­fore her eyes and he is less than pleased to see her. But Chloe is not just the prover­bial hooker with a heart of gold, she has a child, a very sexy lover in her down­time, and a past.

Drugs, so of­ten a sta­ple of pros­ti­tu­tion in the real world, play no part here. In tonight’s sec­ond episode ( Show­case is show­ing two episodes, pre­sum­ably to en­tice view­ers to com­mit to the rest of the se­ries), randy rock star Johnny Lake ( Martin Din­gle- Wall) se­duc­tively slips a pill into Mel’s mouth. Madeleine West, who plays Mel, re­moves it with such al­lur­ing sleight of hand that you can’t miss the anti- drug mes­sage. In any case, Johnny drives her back into the arms of her elu­sive lover, who briefly takes her away to Cal­i­for­nia.

Are Aus­tralian view­ers ready for full- frontal nu­dity, sim­u­lated sex and beau­ti­ful, up- mar­ket call­girls? In a pro­duc­tion as lav­ish, well writ­ten and well acted as this, they just may be.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

Al­lur­ing: Mel ( Madeleine West) with a client in Sat­is­fac­tion

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