The first episode of the Real Housewives of Melbourne hasn’t even aired yet, but the battle lines are drawn with one of the show’s stars labelled a ‘South Yarra thug’.
The Australian version of the hugely popular franchise hits TV on Sunday and it’s clear the cattiness will rival the international counterparts.
The women are familiar faces around Australia’s wealthiest suburb, Toorak, thanks to their busy social lives and big bank accounts.
Barrister, cancer survivor and mother Gina Liano, 47, has been branded the ‘bully’ of the group by her nemesis Lydia Schiavello, 44.
It comes after Gina publicly branded Lydia ‘not very bright’ and sniped that she’s ‘never worked a day’ in her life.
‘She totally bullies me. It’s disgusting,’ Lydia said in response during a sit down with MailOnline.
When it rains it pours: Gina and Janet at Darling Harbour in Sydney on Wednesday
‘She’s a South Yarra thug. I’ve got a successful husband who I help in his business and that’s what people don’t understand.
‘I don’t have to go around saying “I’m a barrister, I’m a barrister”.
‘She has no idea. I joke that she wants to be me.’
Lydia – who is currently studying architecture at university – seems more than happy to be a kept woman.
And she’s proud to be a dutiful wife, reveling that she makes lunch for her husband ‘every day’ and sends him to work with a silver lunchbox that she got from a visit to the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
It’s all dirt of the shoulder for Gina, who unashamedly says that she’s probably the ‘biggest b*tch’ on the Foxtel series which airs on Arena this Sunday.
‘They say that on the show and I don’t dispute it,’ she adds.
‘I was targeted, which was quite difficult to deal with at times and whether that made me a b*tch or a victim, I don’t know.
‘Some of the women don’t like me? Well, the feeling’s mutual.’
Gina’s straight-up attitude and unflinching reactions give her the opportunity to ‘shine’ on the reality series.
Although Lydia insists producers wanted the six women to glamorise their everyday lives and that ‘we actually do housework in our tracksuits’ there is a distinct lack of reality in the first few episodes of what is no doubt going to be a hit.
Then again, that’s the appeal.
Event director Chyka Keebaugh, 44, believes the show has been a bonding experience for the women and that it offers everyday Aussies a look into their ‘unusual’ lives.
‘No one can ever understand what it’s about,’ she says.
Fellow cast mate and former TV reporter Andrea Moss, 45, agrees: ‘No one can ever understand what we’ve been though.’
There is, however, plenty to watch. The eldest of the group – Janet Roach , 55 – is single and mingling with a 35-year-old mystery man while the baby of the group – Jackie Gillies, 33 – is one of Australia’s leading psychics.
Constantly referring to herself as the ‘rock star wife’, Gillies says she won’t discuss ‘anything Silverchair’ despite being married to the band’s drummer Ben Gillies. She refused to answer if the couple still socialise with his former bandmates, lead singer Daniel Johns and bassist Chris Joannou.
What she will talk about candidly are her psychic capabilities.
‘I think every single human being has this: I believe that I’m just aware and I’m not scared of what I hear,’ she says.
‘I’ve always had it, I was just never mature enough to understand what was going on so when I used to see spirits – physically, like I’m looking at you now – I used to think it was my imagination.
‘When I used to dream things and they’d come true basically the next day I’d think that just everyone had that.’
Gina adds: ‘It was so natural to you, that’s why. You realised you weren’t like anyone else.’
It’s surprising to hear Gina back her up as the pair clash repeatedly in the first two episodes after Jackie moves from Newcastle to Melbourne and enters the friendship circle.
A shocking psychic reading over dinner leads to a heated confrontation, but it all seems to be water under the bridge now.
Gina even veers off topic during the interview to share a bizarre psychic encounter with Jackie after a dream where she’s introduced to a ghost named Daniel.
‘That’s your guardian angel!’ says Jackie.
‘I’ve been meaning to tell you,’ says Gina, nodding solemnly.
Sure, it’s reality, but not quite as you know it.
Real Housewives of Melbourne airs on Foxtel’s Arena, Sunday February 23 at 8.30pm.