I was forbidden from watching Heartbreak High, which really was deranged of my parents, since there were far worse things I could have been into at 12, like speed, blowjobs or Home Improvement. It was the nineties and Heartbreak High, or HBH as it was known by its die-hard fans, was the ABC’s top rating teen soap opera, a spin-off from the hit Aussie play-turned-movie, The Heartbreak Kid. Both starred Alex Dimitriades, who I later toyed with the idea of marrying, based on his performance in the series Wildside (in a promo for the show, he slid down a wall in the rain, crumpling like a tissue; I wanted to fold him up and put him in my pocket).
But Dimitriades didn’t stir my pre-teen loins. He was cute, granted, but at the time of watching HBH, I just couldn’t help but see every other wog as my cousin, which they frequently were. Rather, my tiny heart burned for the skater bad boy ruffian Drazic, played by Callan Mulvey, who has subsequently starred in Rush and Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms. Good for him, he’s had a career. But I really can’t deal with Mulvey as an adult because of how he watermarked my childhood soul. When I chanced upon an ad for Rush at Flinders Street Station with Mulvey’s face blown-up to the size of a wheelie bin, I wilted, crying out in my mind, But I love you! Because I did.
And he betrayed me.
Here’s how. Drazic was “bad”, in the sense that he was always playing pranks and occasionally engaging in real criminal activity (he conducted an illegal tuck shop ring, when the school’s tuck shop stopped serving his favourite food: pies). But he always came “good” in the end, continuing to attend school without fail, albeit consistently making a ruckus and getting caught with porn. He also held down a part-time job at the local cafe-slash-hangout, The Shark Pool, which was in fact a managerial position, an outstanding accomplishment for someone who wore fur pants.
Since Drazic was wayward, living in a sharehouse with no parental supervision or influence, he clearly needed nurturing. This was provided by Anita, the show’s good girl, played by Lara Cox. Anita didn’t do much, aside from be pretty and get sucked in by a creep on the Internet, who claimed to be a poet, but actually turned out to just want to fuck her in the park. Drazic turned up at the very moment Anita needed rescuing from this grubby pervert and threatened to beat the shit out of him. The Internet poet, thankfully, ran away, returning to his fucked up life online. In this way and others, Anita and Drazic balanced each other and their romantic relationship lasted multiple seasons.
As much as I wanted to be with Drazic, I had no desire to live vicariously through Anita, since she was basically stupid and dealt with moral dilemmas unnecessarily slowly. The character who I felt embodied both my spirit and interests was Mai, Drazic’s housemate, played by Nina Liu, who was prone to art installations, protesting and protecting an illegal immigrant who was also stalking her. Mai seemed to have a shit run of luck towards the end of the series, getting physically assaulted by a thief at The Shark Pool. Following the incident, Mai suffered insomnia and requested Drazic sleep with her on the couch. He acquiesced.
Since Drazic was in a relationship with Anita and, furthermore, he and Mai were co-tenants, the night should have culminated in no more than light petting. But no. DRAZIC FUCKED HER. Then he ignored her, lied to Anita and generally didn’t give a shit. What happened to Mai? She mysteriously disappeared from the show. What happened to Anita? Who cares.
I know, I need to learn to forgive. But I’m just not ready, Mulvey. I just can’t.
This article first appeared in Frankie Magazine issue 69 (Jan/Feb 2016).