The Big Issue : Edition 528
34 THE BIG ISSUE 13 – 26 JAN 2017 “ALEISHA, GET OFF social media and come help clean up!” The first episode of Family Rules opens with a classic fount of family spats: doing the dishes. The voices of the other Rule sisters form a shrill chorus of admonishment: “No cleaning, no wi-fi!” Aleisha eventually trudges to the kitchen, but only when her older sister follows through with her threat and turns off the wi-fi. The scene is full of tossed tea towels, clattering dishes and teenaged eye rolls. In short, it’s a scene observed most nights in family homes across the country. The Rule family maintains they are just a normal Perth family. In the show’s intro, the mother of the family casually says: “I’m Daniella, and these are my girls.” One by one, a series of pretty young female faces pop onto the screen and state their place in the sibling order. “I am the eldest.” “I’m second.” “I’m number three.” “Number four...” And they just keep coming. “Number five...number six...number seven...number eight...I’m the last one.” The daughters of the Rule family make up a formidable group of nine, aged 12 to 29. Daniella met her husband Kevin Rule when she was 16. They started to build their family very quickly – Daniella was 17 when she had their first child, Angela. But in 2004, when their youngest daughter Hannah was just a few weeks old, Kevin was killed by a coward’s punch. “It was a difficult time. It was about all being there for each other,” says Daniella. “Everyone had a role to play, everyone had a responsibility for each other.” Over time, the family has become used to their unique story attracting a lot of attention. “When people meet the girls, they are like, ‘What?! You have eight sisters? And your dad passed away?’” says Daniella. “But we’re just a family doing what we can do, living life, just trying to do the right thing.” The fifth sister, Kiara, 22, acknowledges that things can get “a bit crazy” with nine sisters, but agrees she wouldn’t like to have brothers. “Every sister has their own qualities: one sister for advice; one sister for going out; another for something else. They’re my best friends,” she says. Safe to say, the Rule women were pretty shocked (“Are you for real? Us?”) when producers approached them with the idea for the show. But it was an opportunity they didn’t want to pass up. “One of the key reasons why I wanted to do it, personally, was because there’s so much negativity put out there about big Aboriginal families, assumptions and all the stereotypes, and people who have a lot to say when they don’t know what it’s like,” says Daniella. “The message we want to get out there is just to be open-minded with people.” And Family Rules quickly shows that – despite the rooms seeming a little more crowded and family dinners looking like the festive feasts that most of us would put on once a year – the Rule family is pretty normal. They feud over clothes, they vacillate over the right dress for the school formal, they get frustrated with each other, they look out for each other and wi-fi is the ultimate bargaining chip. The show has the enthralling chaos, mundaneness and kitschy glam of reality TV’s original family show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. When this comparison is mentioned to Daniella and Kiara, they hoot with laughter – especially because that would make Daniella the infamous family matriarch (and talent agent), Kris Jenner. IS THIS INDIGENOUS FAMILY AUSTRALIA’S ANSWER TO THE KARDASHIANS, OR JUST A REGULAR FAMILY WITH AN IRREGULAR STORY? XXX XXX XXX XXX WHO RULES THE WORLD? GIRLS! “ONE SISTER FOR ADVICE; ONE SISTER FOR GOING OUT; ANOTHER FOR SOMETHING ELSE.” COUNT THEM: THE RULE FAMILY.