Ok, this is a strange one. Firstly, it is an Australian import that doesn’t suck cock. (Remember The Secret Life of Us? No, neither does anyone else but it was great. That was the last Australian show I liked. Edit: that was certainly true then but in the intervening period I have discovered Underbelly which proved to me that a nation descended from screws and convicts could produce effective gangster drama so well done for that). Secondly, it’s a mockumentary based in an Australian public school (for British readers, who know the only correct use of public school is to describe a school the public can’t afford, this means state school) where they portray bullying, racism, homophobia and all the other delights of a comprehensive education. Thirdly, all three main characters are played by the same man, Chris Lilley. Isn’t that just asking for trouble?
“Lilley throws himself into the portrayal with gusto, coming out with well observed drivel like ‘public schools are so random!’ (Is there a more misused word among the young than “random”?)”
Quite possibly, but allow me to introduce the trifecta. Firstly, there isChris LilleyKing, an exchange student from a private school. Shallow, cruel, and convinced of her brilliance in every area of life Ja’mie is a typical adolescent girl. Lilley throws himself into the portrayal with gusto, coming out with well-observed drivel like “public schools are so random!” (Is there a more misused word among the young than “random”?) and her casual racism against Asians. My only concern is that Lilley seems to enjoy the dress-up aspect little too much for my liking. But Aerial Telly does not make judgements despite the insistent clamour from the masses.
“Australian TV critic Michael Idato has said that “Jonah Takalua is well on the way to becoming the voice of his generation”. I don’t think he’s joking either.”
Then there’s our boy in the hood, Jonah Takalua, a Year 8 bully of Tongan descent. Jonah is disruptive in class, educationally remedial and hangs out with his Tongan buddies convinced that every attempt to discipline him is a racist plot. Jonah is an impressive breakdancer and prolific graffiti tagger (he goes by the name [picture of Dick]tation which gets full marks for concept) Australian TV critic Michael Idato has said that “Jonah Takalua is well on the way to becoming the voice of his generation.” I don’t think he’s joking either.
Next up there’s Mr Gregson, aka Mr G, a drama queen drama teacher who is, well, also a queen. Probably the most impressive performance of the three, Mr G has that familiar David Brent conviction that he is loved and admired when in actual fact he is just pitied and mocked. The long list of musicals he has written includes “Tsunamarama“, a musical about the 2004 Tsunami disaster, set to the music of Bananarama. When you think of it, it is amazing no one thought of this first.
“The list of musicals he has written includes “Tsunamarama”, a musical about the 2004 Tsunami disaster, set to the music of Bananarama. When you think of it, it is amazing no one thought of this first.”
I’ve only watched the first episode but this looks like pretty good stuff. Lilley has taken on an insanely large task here and comes out of it smelling of roses. By all accounts, they absolutely love this shit in Australia. It’s something like a cross between Inbetweeners and The Office. And while it’s obviously not as good as either of those they are two pretty good reference poinis if you’re going to make good comedy.
Australians being funny. What will those colonials think of next?
The best thing about it: Mr G. Chilled out entertainer.
The worst thing about it: Seeing a grown man in a schoolgirl uniform just doesn’t seem right.
The verdict on Summer Heights High: A promising start from the convicts.
Marks out of 10: 7.5