Homecoming Queens: friends turn chronic illness into comedy script | Television & radio


When you’re young, says writer Michelle Law, you think life will be pretty straightforward: school, uni, partner, maybe kids. Nobody ever factors in developing a chronic illness.

For Law and her friend Chloë Reeson, this was their reality. Law developed alopecia – an autoimmune disease that results in hair loss – as a teenager. Reeson, meanwhile, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 22. The pair met met in their 20s, through mutual acquaintances, and bonded over the feeling of social isolation that their illnesses brought. People their age couldn’t really connect.

“We’d leave these parties early and commiserate with each other,” Law tells Guardian Australia. “There wasn’t really anything out there in terms of media that really reflected our experience, and we sort of jokingly said maybe we could make something like that one day, not really thinking much of it.”

Four years of development later, and Homecoming Queens is the result: a seven-part comedy series commissioned by and developed for SBS On Demand, co-written by Law and Reeson.

A loose fictionalisation of their experiences, Homecoming Queens opens with Michelle Low – played by Law herself – fleeing Sydney and her job in kids’ TV after an alopecia diagnosis. She turns up late one night on the Brisbane doorstep of her best friend from high school, Chloë Easton (Liv Hewson, currently starring alongside Drew Barrymore in the Netflix comedy, The Santa Clarita Diet), determined to hide until the worst is over: “I just want to get in, grow some hair, get out.”

Chloë, on the other hand, has a new lease on life after surviving breast cancer. She’s got a list of things she wants to get done, including skydiving, road-tripping, hard drugs, getting a tattoo, and “lady sex”.

Homecoming Queens



Michelle Law on writing Homecoming Queens: ‘There wasn’t really anything out there that reflected our experience.’ Photograph: Supplied: SBS

Directed by Corrie Chen, a longtime collaborator of Law’s, the episodes are bite-sized and the series’ comedic style stems from the world-weariness of the young people at its core. The old cliché about how if you didn’t laugh you’d cry has always felt very pertinent to Law, she says. Dealing with chronic illness as a 20-something – at the age when you feel like you should be carefree and partying – is “a confusing and often absurd experience to have.”

“It really throws you in the deep end and forces you to confront questions that people might not be asking until they’re much older and they’re retired. It really does fast track you in an emotional and psychological sense.”

This is not Law’s first foray into drama. Her play, Single Asian Female, sold out its debut season at La Boite in Brisbane in 2017, before being remounted in Sydney at Belvoir earlier this year. In it, Law explored the way the intersection of race and gender played out for a family of women, drawing on the experiences of people she knew and the desire to see stories on stage that she, as a Chinese-Australian woman, could relate to.

It’s also not the first time Law has been fictionalised on screen. Her brother Benjamin Law is putting the finishing touches on the final season of The Family Law, based on his memoir of the same name.

She shares with her brother an understanding of the power of personal narrative.

“I really believe that the personal is political, and although I don’t set out to tell my own personal story specifically, I always see it as quite an interesting ‘in’ for people when we’re looking at wider sociopolitical issues.”

Some people consider the experiences of these characters to be extraordinary, says Law, but at the end of the day, they’re just “striving to be ordinary people living somewhat ordinary lives”.

Homecoming Queens is available to stream now on SBS On Demand



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