05 December 2011

You Should Be Watching Angry Boys

Chris Lilley is the funniest man in Australia. And I think I know Australian comedy! (angry & boyish, right?)

I saw my first Chris Lilley show at the behest of my friend's girlfriend at the time. She'd slip into a bitchy teenage Australian accent and start calling everything "so random," and I'd wonder if she was doing some Pride & Prejudice bit that I wasn't getting (but Pride & Prejudice is set in England! but I can't tell the difference!). But it turned out she was quoting Summer Heights High, and we finally rented the dvds on netflix and watched every episode within two days.

In it, Chris Lilley plays the three main characters in a high school mockumentary: Ja'mie, the bitchy private school exchange student; Mr. G, the spoiled and delusional drama teacher; and Jonah, the Tongan problem child who can't stay out of trouble. In the span of just 7 episodes, Lilley's characters reach far deeper than you'd expect - they're hilarious, but they're also human, and it matters how things turn out for them. They reach so high (usually setting themselves up for utter failure) that it's impossible not to see how things turn out, waiting with crossed fingers.

Since this theme month is about shows you could ostensibly Be Watching (right now), it's only right to recommend Angry Boys, which will air on HBO in very early 2012. Chris Lilley expands his normal miniseries length to 12 episodes (We Can Be Heroes only had 6), and the result is a wider breadth for more main characters. Several characters aren't introduced until after the first and second episodes, as earlier ones fall into the background to make way. We are reintroduced to Nathan and Daniel Sims, the white trash twins from Dunt who originally ran for Australian of the Year; and we're introduced for the first time to their tough-as-nails Gran (my favorite), who guards the local juvenile detention center; Tiger Mom Jen, who forces her skateboarding son to perpetuate his gay merchandizing; S.Mouse, a rapper with pitiful rhymes; and Blake Oakfield, a retired surf bum.

With more episodes than its predecessors, Angry Boys doesn't have to follow its characters for just a short amount of time (say an Australian of the Year pre-final or one school term) - instead it just sits with these people, watching as they go through serious changes. With this series more than the others, it feels like the characters will keep on going after the credits stop rolling. We just have to wait a few more years for another Chris Lilley series so we can catch up with them again.

All photos courtesy HBO.com

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