Packed to the Rafters is an Australian family-oriented television series which premiered on the Seven Network on Tuesday 26 August 2008 at 8:30 pm. The comedy series features a mix of lighthearted comedy woven through the plot. It revolves around the Rafter family facing work pressures and life issues, whilst also tackling serious social issues. The Logie award winning series was the highest rating to screen on the Seven Network in 2008 with an average audience of 1,939,000 viewers tuning into each episode.
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The series centres around the characters Dave and Julie Rafter and their three children Rachel, Ben and Nathan.
Season one begins on the eve of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary the couple thinks that they are finally about to have the house to themselves. But home is a very welcome refuge for their children and when unforeseen problems loom, they return like a boomerang. After Dave faces unemployment, Julie's father suffers a panic attack, son Nathan and daughter-in-law Sammy need a place to stay, daughter Rachel leaves her abusive boyfriend Daniel, and son Ben moves next door but continues to drop in, the household is 'packed to the rafters'.
The second season follows Julie and Dave Rafter through comic highs and soul-searching lows as they prepare for the unplanned but no-less welcome addition to their family of their new baby. We also explore the heart warming arrival into the Rafters world of Dave's birth mother Chel, opening in the process the door to further family revelations. We follow the tumultuous upheavals in the lives of all three Rafter children. Rachel embarks on a promising if-at-first feisty relationship with the cute young electrician who's begun working with her dad. Ben continues his determined pursuit of housemate Melissa's hand in marriage. Nathan, in seeking new career challenges in the music business, struggles to resist strong temptations that may well signal the end of his young marriage.
The third season follows the Rafters as they adjust to life with a new baby and face their toughest test yet, the sudden and tragic loss of a loved one. For Julie and Dave, there's the financial stress of being a one-income family, the sense of being pulled in a hundred directions by the needs of their adult children, and the strain placed on their marriage as the stress and exhaustion of caring for a baby takes hold. Rachel, the eldest Rafter child, struggles to find balance between her high-flying new job and her relationship with Jake; Ben, recently and blissfully married to Melissa, is trying for kids until a heartbreaking accident shatters his world; and Nathan is agonisingly estranged and ultimately divorced from his wife Sammy. Add to the mix, new family members Coby and Dave's father, Tom, and life for the Rafters has never been more packed.
The fourth season traces the family's fortunes as they attempt to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Melissa's death. Strong family bonds ensure that traumatised Ben receives warm support as he takes his first steps back into the work-force. Slowly he learns to smile again, embracing a newfound interest in gardening and a growing friendship with his boss's daughter Emma, which might hold the promise of something more. There are further love issues in the Karandonis household, with Carbo and Retta choosing to elope rather than face the comic extravagance of a Karandonis wedding. Julie and Dave, meanwhile, are forced to deal with the consequences for Rachel and Jake of a dangerous accusation flung at him by a drunken woman on a rugby weekend away. Rachel's feelings for Jake are tested to the limit, especially when her boss throws into the confusing mix the chance of a lifetime to work in New York. The Rafters also wrestle with the unexpected arrival of new family members, not the lest being the release from prison of Dave's father, Tom. Tom's never quite predictable manipulations ultimately force Dave to take a heart-breaking stand, and cause him to initially misjudge the intentions of his half-brother, Matt. Julie meanwhile finds a new best friend in Donna, though their initial exchanges are hilariously unpromising. Meanwhile Nathan is searching for new direction in his life and his desire to travel forces Julie and Dave to undertake some soul-searching of their own. Ted is also keen to find a greater purpose, mentoring a troubled twelve year old boy.