Despite the negativity and widespread criticism that has surfaced since Ten's controversial new series The Shire premiered last week, one of its rising stars, Mitch Dean, says he's happy with how he's been portrayed on the show so far.
"Everything you saw in episode one is genuinely me, so I was happy how I came across," Dean, left, told AAA. "I am a stonemason and I do love the Shire and I just love my mates Simon Jaeger and Andy Lee, we have so much fun together."
Given the 23-year-old never set out to be on the show and was cast purely by chance - he caught the producers' attention after attending the auditions in support of a friend - he has panned out as one of The Shire's leading characters.
"I got sucked into it, basically," he laughed. "I was honestly just going along to help (my friend) out. So to cut a long story short, I got there and he was running 15 minutes late and I was talking to the producer who was in there and we really hit it off and she was looking at me and said 'Hey Mitch can I just audition you really quickly on camera to see how you look?' So I said 'Yeah, why not'.
"Then after that I got an email saying they really liked me. It pretty much went on from there."
While the series has been compared to the likes of trashy reality series such as Jersey Shore, Dean insisted The Shire was completely different.
"The way the show is filmed and how the cameras are set up, it's not Jersey Shore," he said. "We're not in a house where we've got a microphone on 24/7. It's sort of filmed like your typical soapie. So the more and more I heard of how they wanted to show the Shire and how beautiful it is, and the different characters in the Shire, not necessarily living in the Shire but here for work or whatever, that really drew me in."
Though there seems to be an awkward love triangle brewing between Dean and his two former ex-girlfriends, Gabrielle Foletti and Kizzy, he insists there is no awkward tension between the trio.
"Kizzy is like a boy's girl, she blends with all my mates and she can come out surrounded by blokes - she's great," he said. "It wasn't that awkward because Gab didn't really know much about Kizz and I've been single for six months."
Though the series has already seen its fair share of controversy even before it went to air - the local council rallied for it to be dropped in fear it would paint the region in a bad light - Dean hopes people's negative views will start to change in the coming weeks.
"People are so quick to judge and it's funny how things work because as soon as someone says one thing, people just seem to jump on the bandwagon," he said. "I know the stories that unfold, there's a lot more to come, a lot more drama, a lot more raw stories that are real and I really do feel people are going to relate to that and really like it."
The Shire airs at 8pm today on Ten.