FINDING a long-lost sibling or siblings should be a joyous occasion. It's more complicated for Julia Bechly, the protagonist of Ten's new comedy drama Sisters.
She discovers she has dozens, perhaps hundreds of half-siblings after her father Julius (Barry Otto), a Nobel Prize-winning IVF pioneer, confesses on his death bed he provided most of the "anonymous" donor sperm at his clinic.
The revelation puts the world of his only legitimate child into a spin. In an effort to "set things right", 30-year-old Julia holds a Bechly offspring reunion.
"Julia has delusions of grandeur where she thinks she can make it all better," Maria Angelico tells The Guide during a visit to Brunswick, the setting of her character's ramshackle house.
"I guess she gets it from her father. She does take responsibility for a lot of things, but she doesn't blame herself for what happened.
"She's like 'I've got to run away from it or solve everyone else's problems so I can avoid dealing with my own'."
The reunion sets off a chain of awkward events including the revelation her childhood friend Edie is her half-sister and a man she had a one-night stand with is her half-brother.
"There's always comedy in drama and vice versa. My favourite films are the ones that are heartbreaking but there's humour in there," Maria says.
"Because this is so extreme and such a horrific circumstance, I think it has to be funny in some way otherwise it would become a horror film or something.
"I think it lends itself to being tragic in a dramatic and funny way."
As her life gets even more complicated, Julia finds comfort in her two new and very different sisters: lawyer Edie (Antonia Prebble) and TV star Roxy (Lucy Durack).
"That whole packaged, beautiful, sparkly way that Roxy presents herself is very jarring to Julia's way of being… but there's a warmth to Roxy's character that's really beautiful," Maria says.
"Edie and Julia grew up together but they lost contact. It's that thing where you'd be friends on Facebook and you'd be interested in watching their life but you'd also be judging them. Edie's the high achiever who seems to have her life completely together and Julia's on struggle street."
When Edie decides to launch a class action lawsuit against Julius, whose health suddenly improves, it threatens to drive a wedge between the new-found sisters.
"She really thinks she's doing the right thing and that justice will prevail and the girls will work that out," Antonia says.
"She's willing to take the heat for what she believes is the right thing to do for everyone."
The series, created by Jonathan Gavin and produced by Imogen Banks, also stars Magda Szubanski, Roy Billing, Dan Spielman and Catherine McClements.
Sisters premieres tonight at 8.40pm on Channel 10.
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