The new TV series House Husbands was created by two writers who were intrigued by the increasing number of dads in their Sydney neighbourhoods during work hours.
Writer and script producer Ellie Beaumont – the mother of four children aged two to nine – has seen more and more men at her children’s school gate of an afternoon. This includes one of her closest friends, a house husband.
Fellow writer Drew Proffitt has also been noticing a growing number of men with young children during daytime walks around his suburb. In November last year he pitched the idea to Beaumont of a TV drama focusing on men in charge of raising their children. Within days the pair became co-creators of a new Aussie drama.
“I leapt on it and wrote a pilot,” says Beaumont, of the show which premieres on September 2 on Channel Nine. “By Christmas we had two scripts and then we were off and running. We couldn’t believe this hadn’t been done before because it is so contemporary and a phenomenon.
“Also, the potential for comedy was a big one. We’ve passed the ‘Three Men and a Baby’ where men can’t change nappies, but men still have a unique approach to parenting and housework and this felt like a good territory to milk.”
House Husbands was filmed on location in Melbourne and centres on four young families where the men are the primary caregivers of their children. Beaumont and Proffitt spent time with many dads as part of their research and were surprised by the shared experiences.
“I was amazed to hear them say their biggest problem is when they are at the park or wherever and talk to a woman, they feel like she thinks they’re trying to crack on to her,” says Beaumont, whose previous TV writing credits include Bed of Roses; Water Rats; and The Secret Life of Us.
“I was also interested to find out it’s quite a lonely pursuit for a lot of men. House Husbands is very much about mateship and the fact these four men stick together because they are outnumbered. There aren’t those mothers groups and support groups for men.”
One of the stars of the show is comedian Julia Morris, who plays nurse Gemma – mum to Tilda and wife to reluctant stay-at home dad Lewis (Gary Sweet).
Interestingly, Morris’s real-life husband stays at home to care for their two little girls while she works.
“Julia has it in real life and on screen,” says Beaumont. “A lot of the house husbands we spoke to found there was a whole lot of things that women seem to know that men don’t. Julia’s husband said with play dates initially, he didn’t kind of get that he wasn’t meant to come along. He rocked up and sat there and after a really long time suddenly realised ‘I’m supposed to drop her off and leave’.”
Beaumont was also drawn to co-creating the series because of its dual focus on career women and the challenges they faced, including the inevitable guilt.
“As a mother you still get a lot of people saying ‘who’s looking after your children’ that men don’t get so much,” Beaumont says. “I still get that a lot. People say ‘hang on, you have four children – how can you possibly work?'”
House Husbands airs on Sunday at 8.30pm on Channel Nine.