When it comes to the topic of great comedic television in this country, many will argue that we did our best work in the ’90s. Tony Martin and Mick Molloy terrorised the streets of Marrickville & Fitzroy with nought but a mic and a camera on The Late Show. Jane Turner and Magda Szubanski delighted with the stylings of Lynne on Full Frontal–“You’re too good him”. And Rob Sitch’s brilliant Mike Moore on Frontline was the pisstake of current affairs TV that we all so desperately needed.
Then things kind of fell off a bit. Sure, we had Kath & Kim–initially funny but stale after a few too many seasons. Same with Glenn Robbins in Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures. And that was that.
Until Chris Lilley came along.
Unassuming in his own skin, the brilliant Lilley could become just about any caricature plucked from Australian society. And he did. Through We Could Be Heroes, which tracked the unsuccessful attempts of six misfits to become Australian of the year, to Summer Heights High, which reminded everybody of their own high school experience just a little bit too incisively, Australia fell in love with Chris Lilley.
Like much of the television we produce in Australia, however, Lilley’s shows ran the risk of growing stale too. His contentious character Jonah, which saw the comedian cop some criticism for what some claimed was ‘blackface’, was reprised for two more shows: Angry Boys and Jonah From Tonga, and his less contentious and oh-so-funny J’amie King was seen again in J’amie: Private School Girl, which enjoyed a little more success than her faux-Tongan counterpart.
And then we didn’t seem him for a while. Until now.
Where the ABC might have dropped the ball on developing Lilley’s ideas, Netflix has happily picked it up, and now we have the first glimpse at his latest creation: Lunatics.
In true Chris Lilley style, his ragtag bunch of fresh characters don’t appear to have anything in common, and all appear to reflect the reality of somebody we already know: arguably his greatest strength as a writer. We see a pet psychologist to the stars who looks about as insightful as one would expect from a pet psychologist, a real estate entrepreneur with a fat arse who is the wanker with whom we’ve all dealt at some point.
We are also treated to a ‘cutting edge fashion designer’, who is somehow every fashion designer, an ex-porn star, an arts and crafts influencer, and the future Earl of Gayhurst.
Netflix has a knack for developing great shows from the minds of established talent, and Chris Lilley is no stranger to producing top-quality TV, so the pairing could be a match made in heaven. From what we can see from the trailer above, we’ll be
tuning logging in intently on April 19 when Lunatics premieres.