When examining the darker side of experiencing life as a teenage girl, there’s no series more thought-provoking than the new Stan Original Series Bad Behaviour.
Taking viewers into the epicentre of the teenage experience and the unrelenting struggle for acceptance, viewers are in for a raw and visceral ride that resonates with all too many of us.
A far cry from a lighthearted look at the teenage experience we’ve seen in the likes of Mean Girls, Bad Behaviour follows the story of a group of teenage girls at an exclusive boarding school while exploring themes of self-exploration, power dynamics, and the impact of teenage years on adulthood.
Based on the book by Rebecca Starford, the explosive four-part drama follows Jo Mackenzie (Jana McKinnon), who at the age of 25 comes face to face with her former school friend Alice Kang (Yerin Ha) as the pair are forced to confront the brutal year they spent together at the exclusive girls’ boarding school, Silver Creek.
Through flashbacks to their time in Silver Creek, we see Jo’s journey of self-discovery, coercive control, mental health, and the effect of her tenuous relationship with her high-school tormentor, Portia (Markella Kavenagh) whom she faces once again as an adult.
Realising the devastating consequences of her decisions ten years later, Jo struggles to navigate her renewed friendship with Portia, who continues to yield her power over her all these years later.
Speaking of her complex character of Portia, rising Australian actress Markella Kavenagh told Rolling Stone Australia, “I think it’s really tricky, isn’t it? Because Portia’s so awful to people, but I had to approach her without any judgement and find where that all came from”.
“A lot of it is obviously from a place of fear; fear of vulnerability and fear of trusting people because she herself has had her trust broken by those in her life.”
She continued, “I think what I found quite fascinating is Portia’s behaviour patterns that repeated themselves 10 years later because she’d left her insecurities unchecked and she wasn’t holding herself accountable.”
Helmed by an all-female creative team, Bad Behaviour boasts a cast of strong female characters and takes a fresh approach to exploring the character’s relationships with one another, without using the men as the focal point.
“The team were really dedicated to portraying a real understanding as to what the characters’ experiences were,” Kavenagh explained.
“I think regardless of Bad Behaviour specific to women, it was important to have a dedicated team that was just really passionate about telling the story.”
With a diverse cast of characters from different sexualities and gender identities, the series is a must-watch for anyone seeking a fresh, realistic and relatable portrayal of women’s experiences, something Kavenagh said was “exciting” to be a part of.
“The characters were written to be quite dynamic and there was a lot of duality within them, so that was really exciting,” she said, adding, “The actors were just so brilliant to work with. So I really felt grateful to have met them and worked with them.”
As for what Kavenagh hopes viewers take away from the confronting drama, Kavenagh said, “I’d say learning the importance of boundaries, and always lead with kindness because you never know what someone’s going through.”