Like a nighttime soap that you can stream at any hour, Playing for Keeps is a juicy drama that could very well be your new guilty pleasure.

Playing for Keeps
Playing for Keeps: (L-R) Cecelia Peters as Paige Dunkeley, Annie Maynard as Maddy Cochrane, Olympia Valance as Tahlia Woods, Madeleine West as Kath Rickards — Photo courtesy of Sundance Now

It has become mine, as watching it is like being a fly on the wall, witnessing the good, bad, ugly, and bitchy stuff experienced and dished out by the main characters. It’s rather delicious, like full-fat ice cream, and should be consumed weekly sans guilt.

Similar to the British series Footballers’ Wives, Playing for Keeps centers on the WAGs — the wives and girlfriends — of the players of the Southern Jets Football Club, a (fictional) professional “footy” team in the Australian Football League in Melbourne.

The leader of the pack, or the clique as it were, is Kath Rickards (Madeleine West, Neighbours, Rescue Special Ops), the wife of the team’s coach. They have a loving, supportive, and (ahem) open marriage, and she looks after the guys on the team much like a mother hen does her brood. Well, most of the time, anyway.

Kath has a similar role with her fellow WAGs, including the newly-engaged, self-absorbed social media maven Tahlia Woods (Olympia Valance, Informer 3838, Neighbours), attorney and married mum-of-two Maddy Cochrane (Annie Maynard, Dead Lucky, Spirited), and wife, mum, and former footballer Jessie Davies (Isabella Giovinazzo, Home and Away, Reef Break). Just joining these ladies is Paige Dunkeley (Cecelia Peters, The Wrong Girl, Catching Milat), a schoolteacher who followed her boyfriend, one of the Southern Jets’s new recruits, to Melbourne.

The team performed rather poorly in the preseason, so Brian sends them back to training camp to get them in fighting shape. But things turn out radically different from the way they were supposed to — one of the players dies, and “it might not have been an accident.”

While the mystery of the suspicious death (and the inquests) weighs on everyone, Paige unwittingly stirs up trouble with comments about a seeming indiscretion between a WAG and a player who isn’t the woman’s partner. Sure enough, the stuff hits the fan amongst the WAGs, especially after the media get hold of the gossip and turn it into a front-page scandal.

(All this, and the show isn’t even at the halfway mark of Series 1 yet!)

Costars include Jeremy Lindsay Taylor (Deep Water) as coach Brian Rickards; Jackson Gallagher (Home and Away) as Connor Marrello, the team captain and Tahlia’s fiancé; Kevin Hofbauer (Rush) as Travis Cochrane, Maddy’s husband; George Pullar (A Place to Call Home) as Daniel Fletcher, Paige’s boyfriend; and James Mason (Neighbours) as Jessie’s husband, Jack.

Playing for Keeps premiered in the US today, Thursday, February 20, with Episode 1, exclusively on Sundance Now and its digital channels, including the Sundance Now channel on Amazon. New episodes of the eight-part first season will debut weekly on Thursdays.


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Playing for Keeps: Addictive Aussie Drama Premieres in the US
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