'House Husbands' drop and roll with the lunches

House Husbands.
House Husbands. 

Following closely on the heels of Channel Nine's Tricky Business comes House Husbands, which centres on four vastly different men who look after their primary school-age children while their partners and spouses earn a living.

For producer and co-creator Drew Proffitt, the premise of men trying to fulfil their roles as fathers was rife with dramatic and comic possibilities.

''Emotionally, men approach situations differently, often in a comic way,'' he says.

The families that feature in TV dramas usually include teens or young adults nearing independence. By focusing on families with younger children, House Husbands was also an opportunity to home in on the loaded issue of working parents: how they are judged; how they juggle time, workloads and personal needs; and their guilt about working.

Rhys Muldoon's character, Mark, works part time in marketing, while his doctor wife (Natalie Saleeba) works long and stressful hospital hours.

We want to show a variety of aspects of being a father: that there isn't one rule book of what makes a good family

''He's a man and therefore a failure, I suppose, at running a family, and makes a number of bad errors along the way,'' says Muldoon, a former Play School host who has a four-year-old daughter in real life. Mark is mildly threatened by his wife's career, which doesn't bode well for their relationship.

His brother-in-law, Kane (Gyton Grantley), is in a relationship with Tom (Tim Campbell), raising Tom's orphaned niece.

There's also retired builder Lewis (Gary Sweet), who has a young daughter with second wife, Gemma (Julia Morris). He hopes to be a more attentive and committed father than he was for his now-adult children.

Lastly, there's Justin (Firass Dirani). He's estranged from his wife, Nicola (Leah de Niese), and is battling for custody of their twins and newborn after sabotaging his own professional football career. There's a lot at stake for Justin - his marriage, his career, the welfare of his children, his hedonistic lifestyle.


Though House Husbands' storylines tend to be driven by the men, Proffitt says it's equally about strong female characters.

''The flipside of the stay-at-home dad thing is the working mother and the associated guilt thing and the pressure that comes with that,'' he says. Importantly, he wanted the show to reflect a broad range of family types.

''We wanted to create a suburban gay couple, for want of a better term,'' he says, referring to Kane and Tom, whose same-sex relationship is not emphasised.

''We want to show a variety of aspects of being a father: that there isn't one rule book of what makes a good family. All our guys approach it in their own way, and it's not necessarily the right or wrong way.

''We're not trying to create a new ideal of what a father should be, we're just showing four different types of fathers. Fathers make mistakes and do sometimes behave ridiculously, so we're not trying to do a show about the new ideal dad. At the same time, we're not setting in stone how a father should behave.''

House Husbands airs on Sunday at 8.30pm on Channel Nine.