Playing For Keeps has glamour, murder and passive aggression… But is it any good?

It's the footy wives drama that everyone is talking about

It’s a world rich with high drama, lowbrow scandals, glamour, heartbreak and torment – and now Ten is bringing us the lives of the wives and girlfriends of Aussie footy stars in new drama, Playing For Keeps.

The series, set in a fictional Melbourne AFL club, has been heavily promoted as a ‘guilty pleasure’ – but if you are hoping for squawking bogans in designer gowns punching each other’s lights out on the Brownlows red carpet, you’re in for a letdown. At least for now.

Starring Madeleine West as powerful club matriarch Kath, Cecelia Peters as awkward newcomer and country girl Paige, Anny Maynard as down-to-earth Maddy, and Olympia Valance as vacuous Instagram queen Tahlia, there’s a great mix of personalities offering plenty of dramatic potential.

But the opening episodes are a far gentler affair than Ten’s copious promos might have suggested. Indeed, most of the fireworks come down to some uncomfortable passive aggression, and awkward misunderstandings.

It seems that in this world of out-and-out abusive Real Housewives, the writers decided that fighting is so last season.


The nastiest we get is when Tahlia sends Paige some new dresses to supposedly make her more presentable for her tacky product launch event.

But I found the show consistently entertaining – the strengths here are the fun observations about celebrity, on-point character studies, and commentary about footy madness in Melbourne.

The relationships between the women are what make this work.

Things are on far shakier ground when the plot lines interrupt the fun. A strange adoption scandal comes out of absolutely nowhere, and a mystery death interrupts the fun.

Who did it? Who cares!

Both developments seem half-baked and pretty much unnecessary at this point.

A job interview scene, which is at first absurdly hostile before the panel discover they’re dealing with a WAG, is unforgivably heavy-handed and silly.

But this show has legs and will be around for a while. Whether it kicks any major goals – especially in the rugby states – remains to be seen.

Playing For Keeps starts September 19, on Channel 10. 

To hear our full discussion of Playing For Keeps, as well as an exclusive cast interview, listen to the latest episode of WHO’s TV podcast, Binge List, out now. Details below!

Related stories