Where to now for Nina and the loopy, genial, meddlesome Proudman family? But it's a question that fans of Offspring may be pondering for a lot longer than they'd hoped for.
Season five has finally wrapped and delivered Nina to a place she hasn't been before. After five years of dating disasters, career missteps, the traumatic death of her partner Dr Patrick Reid, the birth of her child, the discovery of her biological father and being swept into the crazy orbit of her firecracker sister Billie, Nina was finally delivered to a place of love, relative happiness, contentment and resolve.
The finale felt like Nina's storyline had come full circle. And it wasn't just her; the roller-coaster rides of Billie and Mick, Jimmy and Zara and the menage-a-whatever one might call the Martin-Kim-Renee-Cherie-Darcy arrangement also came to very satisfying conclusions.
If the episode turns out to be the end of the road for Offspring, and it might, it was also the right place to leave the show, which is arguably one of the freshest and most original contemporary dramas that Australian TV has offered up.
Ten’s programming chief, Beverley McGarvey, says the network plans to commission a sixth season of Offspring, telling Fairfax: "We are in discussions with the producers and they are, in turn, in discussions with the key creatives and cast." This is heartening news for its mulitude of fans who watched a season finale with an ending so neat and deliriously happy it could well be, as was speculated, "the last".
John Edwards, who created the show with Imogen Banks and Debra Oswald, is more circumspect, saying there are still "four or five significant commercial matters" to be addressed before story meetings for a sixth and subsequent season are held.
"It is possible to say that in all our original imaginings we thought we’d be finishing here because the show necessarily becomes more expensive," says Edwards.
There have been 65 episodes of the show and Offspring is no longer eligible for the 20 per cent tax rebate that applies to home-grown TV dramas. Future episodes of Offspring will cost more to produce, and contracts with cast members, many of whom are sought-after locally and abroad, will need to be renegotiated.
"But, of course, when the show is so successful you sometimes have to look beyond your original planning, and we’re going through all those processes,'' Edwards said. ''Nobody is ever going to do it and have it not be really great. When you love a show, that’s what you do, you don’t want to take it too far.''
The knotty relationship drama starring Asher Keddie and Kat Stewart, with a supporting cast that includes Garry McDonald, John Waters and Deborah Mailman, has become one of the network’s most successful dramas since its premiere in 2010, with viewer numbers up 12 per cent this year. It is syndicated to 11 countries including Sweden, Israel and Portugal. In July 2012, in an unprecedented leap of faith, Ten commissioned two seasons at once.
"I’ve now done more than six shows (including The Secret Life of Us and Love My Way) that have gone to more than three seasons, but this was absolutely exceptional in that we had series four and series five ordered together which allows for such long planning," Edwards said. "That’s very rare to have that. In fact, it’s the only time it’s happened in my experience. You can sit back and imagine all sorts of things to do with the characters and you can be adventurous. What you’re seeing now was in our minds nearly three years ago. So it was great to have that chance."
McGarvey said she was thankful the call paid off. "Offspring has always been ambitious. And it has come a long way from the early episodes. It is a genuine success story and a tribute to everyone who has played a part,'' she said.
"We try to complete every season in a way that leaves the audience satisfied. However, with the Proudmans, as always, life is only a second away from an abrupt U-turn."