2014
09.16

Press release time!

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release

Community Television Press Release

In a statement on his website today Malcolm Turnbull justifies his recent shock decision to axe community television services by quoting some audience statistics that throws into question whether the sector deserves a place on the spectrum.As with all use of statistics, it is easy to cherry pick the numbers that best support the outcome you are looking to achieve.

No one should be surprised that a politician might use this approach in the face of what is proving to be a universally condemned decision.“Average Audience” describes exactly that – the average number of viewers that watched a particular station over a period of time as viewers tune in and out.  “Average Audience” is the currency of television advertising trading.  It is unsurprising that community television has a low “average audience” due to the niche and eclectic nature of the program and the fact that stations do not operate primarily to attract strong “average” audiences in the same way the massively resourced national broadcasters do.  Community TV audiences watch the program that is of interest to them and then switch off.

A more appropriate measure of the scale of active interest in community television is “Reach”.  Reach describes the total number of “unique” individuals who tune in and watch the station over the same period.  Melbourne community television station C31 reaches 450,000 – 500,000 viewers every scheduled week – demonstrating the scale of interest and relevance of the programs we broadcast.  Nationally community television is watched by over 3 million Australians every month.

By quoting community television audience as an “average” Turnbull seeks to diminish the quantum of interest in community television in the face of the overwhelming public backlash against his decision.As a comparison Community Television currently out-rates our equivalent specialinterest broadcaster NITV on both “average audience” and “reach”.  We view NITV as an integral and important part of our media landscape and like Community TV should not be evaluated purely on a ratings analysis.

We also note that the Minister indicates he will be working with the sector to “consider the most appropriate transition strategy” for community television.  We are yet to have any communication from the Minister or the department about this decision.  The sector learned of this announcement via a transcript on his personal website on Wednesday.

And just in case you were wondering exactly what kind of sods we’re dealing with in the Federal Government, this is one of the questions posted as part of Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement on the “future of community television”:

How much have community television broadcasters been paying for access to the sixth channel spectrum?

Seriously? They’re trying to stir up outrage that a “community” organisation is getting free access to the broadcast spectrum? Guess we know what line they’ll be taking when it’s time to privatize the ABC then.

We sat on this for a few days because we weren’t really sure about what stance we wanted to take. Sure, Rove and Hamish & Andy (amongst others) got their starts on community television: do we really need to make the obvious jokes here?

But even we can tell a massively shitty decision (and a naked cash grab) when we spot one. Community television might not be the proving ground it once was – blah blah youtube clips blah blah bunch of obvious “observations” gone viral blah blah – but that doesn’t mean we should chuck it in the bin for the sake of yet another commercial shopping network we’ll program out of our televisions the first chance we get.

Moving into the future is supposed to mean we get more viewing options, not less: guess that upcoming Chaser show Media Circus is just going to be jokes about how the Abbott government won’t rest until the only media options available to Australians come from Rupert Murdoch.

Only they won’t really be jokes.

2014
09.12

Ok, now this is getting weird. Remember yesterday we posted about some alleged incident allegedly involving alleged comedy figure Paul Fenech?

THE ‘‘mishap’’ Fat Pizza actor Paul Fenech suffered two weeks ago, ending his stint on Dancing With The Stars before it even began, was allegedly the result of a violent altercation with a taxi driver.

Well, it seems this story is the gift that keeps on giving if you’re the people at the Daily Telegraph‘s “Sydney Confidential” page:

A WEEK after his house was torched in mysterious circumstances, Fat Pizza star Alex Haddad has spoken about the breakdown of his friendship with alleged cabbie basher Paul Fenech.

With Fenech due in court next month charged with ­assaulting a cab driver on August 22, Haddad has opened up for the first time about the souring of his relationship with his former mentor. There is no suggestion Fenech had anything to do with the house fire.

Haddad says he and his Fat Pizza producer and co-star fell out amid claims he was using his TV launch pad to “pick up chicks”.

Call us dim, but we’ve read and re-read this story a dozen times or more and we still can’t figure it out. It seems that Haddad and Fenech are no longer friends, and also Haddad’s house was torched. But that has nothing to do with them not being friends so please don’t draw that inference because that would be totally wrong and also inaccurate. Did we mention this:

It’s clear someone from the Pizza cast or crew has it in for Haddad.

Because:

The administrator of the show’s Facebook page taunted Haddad on the site after his house burnt down on September 2.

Case closed officer, throw away the key. But also:

There is no suggestion Fenech had anything to do with the house fire.

So which one is it? Arrgh, this is doing our head in. We need a good laugh to get over all this tension – but where to find one…

Haddad, who also featured in Underbelly and Packed To The Rafters, claims Fenech isn’t too dissimilar in some ways from the character he plays on the un-PC production.

“But, he is not a bad person. He does like to give to charity.”

Ok, that’s a start. But with a story like this, you really need a big laugh to bring it all home. Oh, wait:

Haddad however isn’t ­focusing on Fenech’s jealousy. Instead he has plans to crack the US, like former Pizza star Rebel Wilson.

“With my Armenian background and the industry in the US having a major Armenian contribution, I have an advantage over a lot of others,” he says.

Yep, that’ll do it.

2014
09.11

As Jerry Seinfeld never said, “what is the deal with SBS comedians and allegations of violent assault?”:

THE ‘‘mishap’’ Fat Pizza actor Paul Fenech suffered two weeks ago, ending his stint on Dancing With The Stars before it even began, was allegedly the result of a violent altercation with a taxi driver.

Confidential can reveal police were called to Sydney’s CBD on August 22 following reports claiming a cab driver had been allegedly assaulted by the controversial comedian.

Fenech, 44, was arrested on the corner of York and Jamison streets following the altercation, taken to Day Street police station and later released.

A NSW police spokesman told Confidential the man was “issued with a future service court attendance notice for the offence of common assault. The man will appear at Downing Centre Local Court on 15 October 2014.”

The Housos creator took to social media last week to claim his abrupt departure from the dancing show was due to a ­dislocated knee.

First SBS’s Jason “Wilfred” Gann, now Paul Fenech; when will this nightmare spree of uncomic carnage end? Can’t the Herald-Sun/government step in and ban this government-funded filth? Or something? And what is it about appearing on SBS that drives these comedians to violence? Too many sexy European late night movies? Not enough sexy European late night movies?

Fingers’ crossed the alleged altercation wasn’t sparked by the taxi driver not finding Fenech funny – just by being the creator of Swift & Shift Couriers he’ll be punching people out for the rest of his life. Then again, there’s a good chance the taxi driver was really a comedian from ABC2’s Back Seat Drivers: if it turns out Fenech biffed Tumbleweeds fan fave Dan Ilic, good luck finding a jury that would convict.

2014
09.10

Submitted without comment from TVTonight:

It’s no laughing matter when a network picks the wrong timeslot for your show, and it’s a fate that appears to have befallen Please Like Me for Josh Thomas.

Last year it launched to 176,000 viewers on Thursday nights on ABC2 and was the channel’s highest-rating scripted show. This year on a Tuesday night it began with 103,000, but has now dropped to 57,000 in a timeslot not known for local comedy offerings. Despite positive reviews, viewers are either not warming to the material this season or are just forgetting it’s there.

Oh wait, we do have a comment: When a show loses 50% of its audience in a few weeks, there’s no “either” in front of “viewers are not warming to the material this season”. Clearly audiences found Please Like Me, then they lost interest in it: ABC2 is really going to struggle finding a timeslot when the already locked-in season three comes around.

2014
09.09

As people who run an awards ceremony of our own – well, the general public vote in the Australian Tumbleweed Awards, but you know what we mean – we have a tiny bit of compassion for the AWGIE awards. Clearly The Australian Writers Guild’s hearts are in the right place: considering how low on the pole writing is seen across pretty much all of film and television they’re to be applauded for supporting the people who – despite what everyone else in the industry might tell you – really are the ones who make it all happen.

Then they gave Wednesday Night Fever the award for “Comedy – Sketch or Light Entertainment”. The fuck?

Seriously, we’ve been scratching our heads about this for days. First we thought “oh, maybe it’s just for scripted sketches so a show like Mad as Hell somehow doesn’t qualify?” Nope, it says “Light Entertainment” right there on the lid. “Maybe there’s some rule whereby on-camera talent doesn’t count as a ‘writer’ for these awards?” Nope, Sammy J is listed as one of the writers and he was the show’s host. “Maybe all the other shows submitted were even worse?” Um…

COMEDY – SKETCH OR LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

*This Is Littleton: ‘Talent And A Head for Business’ – Amanda Brotchie with Dave O’Neil, Karl Chandler, Ronny Chieng, Melinda Cklamovska, Tegan Higginbotham, Tony Moclair, Matt Okine, Miles O’Neil, Morgana O’Reilly, Stevo Petkovic, Steen Raskopoulos, Vachel Spirason and Adele Vuko

*How Green Was My Cactus – Doug Edwards and Lindy Wilson with Shane Edwards (Radio)

*Wednesday Night Fever: Series 1 – Mat Blackwell, Rick Kalowski, Steve Lynch, Sammy J, Ian Simmons, Joel Slack-Smith and Stephen Walsh with Anne Edmonds, Heath Franklin and Richard Thorp

*Legally Brown – Joel Slack-Smith and Stephen Walsh with Nazeem Hussain, Morgan Jones and Richard Thorp

Yeah, even against that line-up Wednesday Night Fever should have been lucky to win a kick up the arse. Still, it could have been worse:

COMEDY – SITUATION OR NARRATIVE

*The Moodys: ‘Sean’s Day in Court’ – Patrick Brammall

*The Moodys: ‘Commitments’ – Phil Lloyd and Trent O’Donnell

*The Moodys: ‘Australia Day’ – Phil Lloyd and Trent O’Donnell

What the hell happened there? Actually, what the hell happened with the ABC’s comedy submissions across the board? The ABC is currently well-stocked with “situation or narrative” scripted comedy – why didn’t Upper Middle Bogan make a showing? Or Please Like Me? Or Chris Lilley’s stuff? Answers on a postcard, please.

Knowing literally nothing about how submissions to the AWGIE awards work – the guidelines only say you need to be a member to nominate – we’re going to make two wildly speculative guesses here. The first is that maybe the Australian Writers Guild is largely a Sydney thing, hence the lack of Melbourne-based entries… though you’d think The Chaser would have got a look in then.

The second is that maybe someone at the ABC decides which show they’re going to nominate, and that they only nominate one show in each category to prevent the embarrassing situation where one ABC show defeats another for an award the ABC has to nominate itself for. To us, that seems a little more likely – even in the drama categories it looks like the ABC has tried to avoid competing against itself where possible.

So if that’s the case – and we’re totally just speculating here, so please write in and tell us if we’re wrong – the question is this: who chose what shows to nominate? And did anyone at the ABC think that only nominating a sketch show produced and written by the man who is now the ABC’s head of scripted comedy might not have been a good look? That is, if the person who chose the ABC’s sketch comedy submission and the chief writer / producer of that sketch comedy aren’t the same person.

(hey, didn’t the creator of Wednesday Night Fever work with the Moodys writers on At Home With Julia? Why yes he did. Gosh, if we didn’t know better we’d think there was a theme to the ABC’s comedy nominations)

There’s presumably a lot of back-patting going on at the ABC at the moment; winning an award – at least, winning an award that doesn’t say “Australian Tumbleweeds”- is always a cause for celebration. Unless you’re someone who writes sketch comedy or light entertainment for the ABC: then you may very well have just seen your boss shut you out for an award so he can nominate his own show instead.

But wait – maybe Wednesday Night Fever earned the nomination? Maybe it rose to the top based on sheer unadulterated quality alone?

Yeah, the comedy categories are embarrassing enough for the AWGIE Awards as it is; let’s not start speculating that they actually thought Wednesday Night Fever was funny.

2014
09.08

First, an apology: We honestly thought we’d covered Back Seat Drivers (Tuesdays around 10pm, ABC2) back when it first started a few weeks ago. But then we realised we only thought we’d covered it because it was exactly the same as a dozen or more equally forgettable shows we’ve dozed off to over the years. Again, we apologise.

Of course, the real people who should be apologising here are the programmers at ABC2. Why does anyone ever think this kind of show is worth doing? No, seriously, c’mon: the basic idea is “let’s get a bunch of stand-up comedians – you know, that job where they’re constantly going on about how they hate it when the public tries to get involved in their performance – and have them go out and interact with the public! It’ll be hilarious!”

No, it won’t be. It won’t be because it never is. It never is because despite what a lot of tossbags and wankers will try to tell you about “reality” being funnier than anything you could make up, the fact of the matter is that almost all the time reality is boring and packed with dullards. Sure, occasionally reality is the funniest thing around, but you have to spend a massive amount of time getting rid of the boring bits first; there’s a reason why people don’t pay money to go sit in an office watching other people at work.

And yet we keep on getting these high concept shows that turn out on closer examination to have no concept at all. Think about it: what’s the point here? If it’s to get comedians to say funny stuff, there are hundreds of other formats that would do the job better. If it’s to get insights into how regular people feel about the issues of the day during unguarded conversations, why get comedians involved?

Obviously the real point is that it’s a format that does a lot of things while being cheap. Comedians are cheap and reliable on-air talent; using tiny cameras inside a taxi means you don’t need a set; getting regular people to talk means you don’t have to pay writers or cast members. Genius! Until you get to the part where it costs the home viewer exactly the same to watch this no budget effort as it does to watch something that’s actually had some time and money put into it – but it’s on the ABC so presumably that doesn’t really matter. How many people watched Please Like Me this week? Guess they’re not telling.

After all that, Back Seat Drivers isn’t exactly a dead loss. Everyone seems decent enough (host Veronica Milson really needs some better jokes though), they’re all having a chat, they’ve got interesting stuff to say, the comedians occasionally chip in a funny line, and suddenly you realise just how amazingly shithouse almost all of those Agony shows were. Seriously, these regular folk are way more interesting and insightful than the C-list celebrities they trotted out on Agony; if insight and not fame had been the metric used to judge these shows, this would be on prime time ABC and Agony would have gone straight into the bin.

Problem is, Back Seat Drivers is basically just talkback radio with pictures. And the pictures are of the inside of a taxi. And Dan Illic is driving the taxi. It’s the kind of show that worked back in the late 90s when television was pretty much the only home entertainment option going and something quirky and low-key could build an audience: these days, various local content guidelines aside, you really have to wonder why they bothered.

2014
09.03

Comedy, especially in Australia, is a tough business to make a long-term go of. We can count on one hand the number of comedians from the mid-90s who are still creatively vital in 2014, and once you curl back the fingers for Working Dog and Shaun Micallef the rest of the hand can go home early. So really, with Die On Your Feet we should be celebrating the fact that Greg Fleet even has a sitcom on commercial television in 2014. We’re not going to because we’re horrible people, but we at least wanted to acknowledge his achievement here before we started sinking the boots in.

We’re currently four weeks into the series so chances are you already know the set-up: a group of stand up comedians are hanging out during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Um, that’s pretty much it. While the main characters are played by stand up comedians (Adam Hills, Corrine Grant, Alan Brough, Stephen Gates and Greg Fleet), the comedians aren’t exactly playing themselves; for example Hills, one of the great “nice guys” of Australian comedy despite being kind of bland as a television presence, is here playing something of a massive arsehole. All the better to make the kind of thoughtlessly horrible comments you’d pretty much expect any comedian to make when their guard was down.

It’s all very “inside baseball”, as the kids say because internet culture is American culture and “inside cricket” doesn’t make any sense. It’s a show about comedians that references a lot of stuff only comedians would know, but don’t worry: Fleet is just as willing to dig way too deep into the minutiae of, for example, punk rock (episode four starts off with a seemingly endless and pointless discussion of Brisbane post-punk band The Saints (their classic track “(I’m) Stranded” especially). It might be intended to give us insight into the characters and how they view the world but it comes off more as Fleet just wanting to talk about a band he likes. When a hungover Gates groans “stop making lists”, he instantly becomes the most sympathetic character on camera.

In theory there’s no reason why this kind of “drama set in a very specific world” shouldn’t work; it’s certainly worked on plenty of other shows. The episodes here usually have a loose thematic framework – episode four is addiction, which is why we’re focusing on it considering Fleet’s well-publicised dalliances (he punches out a quick spiel early on – “drug abuse has cost me a lot – around $200 grand – but on the upside if I hadn’t been tripping at my Neighbours audition I would have never got a part on Neighbours, and if I’d never got a part on Neighbours I’d still have my self esteem” – which sounds a lot more polished than anything else in the episode), but there’s not really much deep insight into being a comedian on the gear.

Instead, there’s plenty of talking to camera documentary-style as the (backstabbing yet cosy) cast drop superficial bon mots about the ways drugs and comedy interact. Then Brough’s character gets addicted to the computer game Civilisation. Cue lots of screenshots which look pretty.

Unfortunately this episode, like all the others we’ve seen, lacks the kind of well-plotted spine needed to hold it all together – Grant’s character says she’s giving up the drink but does anyone think that’s going to last? In fact, this often feels like a collection of random scenes just thrown together at, well, random, and not just in regards to the writing: There’s a scene where Brough, Gates and Grant are talking in a pub, then we suddenly cut to a different scene where Brough and Fleet are talking in (presumably) a different pub – no transition, nothing. Worse, the cut is between two shots from the same angle – Brough is on the left of screen facing right, then suddenly we’ve gone to a closer shot of Brough on the left facing right only now he’s sitting across from Fleet instead of Grant. Why put these two scenes back to back when the result is this jarring?

And then we cut back and forth between the two and ahhh it’s meant to be non-linear editing (a scene in the past unfolds intercut with a scene later on) except if you have to stop and think about what you’re watching in a comedy you’re not laughing. Hands down up the back, we already thought of the “we weren’t laughing anyway” line. This just feels sloppy, and not in a good way: considering we were big fans of the somewhat similar Peter Moon behind-the-scenes vehicle Whatever Happened To That Guy, clearly we’re not exactly setting the bar high here either.

It’s not that sitcoms need a cast of great actors to work, but you do need people who can at least act a little. It’s become traditional for idiots to say “but what about Jerry Seinfeld?” whenever this question of acting in sitcoms comes up, but unfortunately for them even a brief glance at an episode of Seinfeld reveals that while Seinfeld himself may not have a great range as an actor he’s perfectly convincing playing a smug man-child. Sadly, based on their performances here Adam Hills and Corrine Grant are barely convincing as structures upon which clothes have been hung, let alone living human beings.

Basically, their performances are so poor they would sink this show no matter what else it had to offer. It’s nobody’s fault – well, it’s their fault for not being able to act, but as high profile and generally quite entertaining stand-ups they were logical casting choices for a sitcom looking behind the scenes at the world of stand up comedy. But they’ve been cast as harsh arseholes, which seems at least somewhat at odds with their actual personalities, and they’re just not good enough as actors to bridge the gap.

But really, all this episode – and the series in general to date – has to offer is just a whole bunch of observations about the world of comedy. Which is different from actual comedy in that many of the observations are more along the lines of “hmm, that’s interesting that photographers ask comedians to ‘do something wacky’ in photos and comedians hate that”, rather than the actual laughs you would have got from seeing a real-life wacky photograph. It’s an in-depth look at what happens in the sausage factory when all we want is something tasty to eat.

Not that this kind of thing can’t work: Tony Martin got a lot of laughs from lifting the comedy curtain on Get This. And considering this was filmed after Get This brought Greg Fleet back onto the radar of a lot of comedy fans, it seems reasonable to assume Martin’s work may have been an influence. But there’s a big difference between a few quick observations about working in comedy made on a radio show full of news jokes and silly sketches, and four solid hours of little more than comedians talking about their jobs. Sure, comedians are slightly better at making jokes about their jobs than, say, people who review comedy. But shop talk is shop talk no matter what the shop, and sooner rather than later shop talk gets stale.

Fleet’s been doing narrative comedy since the mid-90s, both in his own live shows and with more traditional theatre, so the thrown together nature of this is probably the biggest surprise. It feels like a show made by someone who woke up one morning and thought “hey, the stuff me and my mates talk about at work should be on TV – it’s just that funny!”

It never is.

 

2014
08.30

One of the things that frustrates us about the current media – in all its forms – is that there’s not enough following up. Politicians make crazy claims about their future plans, newspapers print them, and then ten years later someone looks around and goes “oh, they never did build that billion-dollar scheme, did they?”

We’re not expecting the media to put together a running tally of schemes announced that have mysteriously fallen by the wayside – if they did that what would be the point of Utopia, for one thing – but we do kind of think that when a firm date is attached to something when that firm date rolls around the press should go back to see how things are going. So with that in mind, remember this?

DAVID Thorne is best known for his witty email exchanges that go viral worldwide and pop up in Facebook feeds every so often, but the former Adelaide man can now add TV writer to his list of credentials.

Thorne, who grew up in Modbury and now lives in Virginia, US is working on an eight-part TV series for the American cable and satellite network HBO, alongside Arrested Development’s Jim Vallely.

Named after Thorne’s blog, 27b/6 , the comedy show is set in a small advertising/design agency and is pitched as a cross between The Office and Eastbound & Down.

“I signed a few contracts, sat uncomfortably in on a few meetings, and rewrote scripts written by writers they brought in,” Thorne says.

The 40-something has also been working with Australian comedian Chris Lilley on a mockumentary called Cold Feet; America’s Bunny Slopes, due for release around September.

Around September, you say? And yet zero word has been reported on this since then. Seems odd that when HBO can give you an air date six months in advance for the new season of Game of Thrones, the only person talking up Thorne’s work with them is Thorne himself.

We mentioned this earlier this year. We were pretty sceptical even then; now we’re openly derisive. Thorne is a self described “internet prankster” – why didn’t anyone think to contact Lilley about their “working together”? Doesn’t HBO have a phone number?

At least the Sydney Morning Herald has come around to our way of thinking: they’ve taken down their article we linked to where they praised Thorne and reported as fact his upcoming work with Lilley. Though a google search for it did turn up this variant from June featuring one interesting difference from the SMH version:

Cold Feet will air in the US in August and in Australia and Britain in September, followed by a DVD release in October.

How was anyone out there stupid enough to fall for this? Wait, don’t answer that, we’ll be here all day.

2014
08.27

You may not have noticed what with the all-out media blitz for Josh Thomas’ Please Like Me, but the ABC launched a few other comedy programs in the last few weeks. Press release time!

Reality TV is TV right now. Everything else is just making up the numbers. And yet, for all its cultural force, we barely discuss it. But that’s all about to change.

Join Tom Ballard and a panel of industry experts for a half-hour of sharp, cracking panel discussion where they’ll dissect the week in Reality TV, both home and abroad, share war stories and give us the low down on what really goes into making Reality TV.
Panellists for episode three are:

• Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzgerald – Former Big Brother housemate, host of The Recruit and co-host of Nova’s Breakfast show, Fitzy & Wippa;
• Marion Farrelly – Producer of Big Brother, Farmer Wants A Wife, and The Recruit;
• Andrew Shaw – TVNZ Commissioning Editor of everything from New Zealand’s Got Talent to Changing Rooms.

During episode three, Tom and the panel will:

• Round up some of the best moments from the past week in Reality TV in This Week In Reality. Shows include The Amazing Race, The Bachelor, The X-Factor and E!’s new cosmetic surgery offering Blotched;
• Take a look at the future of TV singing contests;
• Analyse one of Big Brothers best scenes during The Big Moment; and
• Play another round of Real or Fake.

Ending the show on a high note, Tom showcases The Final Three – a countdown of international Reality Gold.

Hey guys – forget all that chat you’ve been having about reality television at work and down the pub and at social gatherings and in the comments threads of recap posts and television forums and on social media; here comes the ABC to show you how it’s done.

Do we even need to tell you this is The Gruen Transfer does Reality TV? No “kinda” or ‘basically” qualifiers here either: this is exactly The Gruen Transfer on reality television right down to pointless audience cutaways, Tom Ballard’s hair and shitty jokes. Hey, everyone who ever thought any of the Gruen programs were intelligent, insightful looks at the media landscape: WRONG.

What Reality Check does do is make it extremely clear that the Gruen formula is nothing more than bundling a collection of wacky clips together then getting a bunch of “experts” to drain all the fun out of them. So on that level, Reality Bites is actually better than Gruen: because they’re still shopping around for “experts” and haven’t yet settled on a reliable yet Margaret-and-David level painful “opposites attract” duo, the guests aren’t yet grand masters when it comes to making sure all eyes remain firmly fixed on them. Which means for much of the show you can block them out and just enjoy the wacky clips.

Sure, this stuff is roughly on par with a time-filling segment on Hey Hey It’s Saturday – the glory days when Clive James would host this sort of thing are well behind us, thus proving the irreversible decline of Western Civilisation – but in theory crazy clips from stupid television shows are fine with us. Just ditch the panel, get someone actually off-the-cuff funny to host, and make sure at least 25 of the show’s 28 minutes is clips and you might have something watchable.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

2014
08.27

Okay, so despite Please Like Me tanking in the ratings- yes, despite wall-to-wall media attention in this country it rates less than, oh, every other show you’ve ever heard of – local critics continue to go nuts over it. Here’s a quick cross-section that’s been brought to our attention:

There’s this:

American and Australian critics compete in their love for the show. James Poniewozik, TV critic for Time magazine called it one of his favourites for 2013 and, more recently, the magazine gave it prime real estate in a story titled How an American Network Saved One of TV’s Best Twentysomethings.

And this:

The Top Ten Australian Characters on TV

Phryne Fisher

1 Billie Proudman (Kat Stewart in Offspring, Ten)

2 Alice Ross-King (Georgia Flood in Anzac Girls, ABC)

3 The Micallef persona (Shaun Micallef in Mad As Hell, ABC).

Elizabeth Bligh

4 Elizabeth Bligh (Noni Hazlehurst in A Place To Call Home, Seven).

5 Ja’mie King (Chris Lilley in Ja’mie: Private School Girl, ABC).

6 The Politician (John Clarke in Clarke and Dawe, ABC)

Josh Photo: Supplied

7 Josh (Josh Thomas in Please Like Me, ABC2)

8 Gemma Crabb (Julia Morris in House Husbands, Nine).

9 Caroline Tivoli (Claudia Karvan in The Time of Our Lives, ABC)

Gemma Crabb Photo: Natalie Boog

10 Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, ABC)

And this:

When the actual plot is explained, it’s clear that everything happening is fairly dramatic, but when you’re watching the show, somehow the Big Things that are so often Dramatic are treated with a comedic touch that manages to be light without making light of anything. They’re going for realism, Thomas told BuzzFeed, but it’s also narrative, and “stuff has to happen.” When you reflect on the show, he said, you realize, though, “Wow, he’s had a really rough fortnight.”

Plus glowing reviews in TV Week and The Green Guide.

Previously we asked why – why all this love for a little watched show on a minor channel starring a guy from Celebrity Splash and a bunch of Optus commercials? We concluded it was because Thomas was the kind of quirky inner-city goofball a certain segment of the Australian media could happily get behind – but it’s gone far beyond that now.

So now we reckon this: Please Like Me is one of the few – actually, it’s pretty much the only – Australian made television show being shown in the US. And because no-one in Australia is actually watching it, critics here can happily praise it to the high heavens safe in the knowledge they’re not going to be contradicted… which wasn’t a freedom they had with the last Australian show to air overseas, Chris Lilley’s Jonah from Tonga.

That makes pretty much all these articles and reviews talking up Please Like Me nothing but clickbait. For once Australian TV writers can talk about a local show – which they kind of have to, because no-one on the internet gives a shit about what they think about overseas shows (we can read much better overseas writers’ thoughts about them) –  while also, in theory at least, taping into a much larger overseas audience of readers. More readers = less chance of being sacked and replaced with a slideshow titled Top Twelve Times Beyonce Yawned In Public.

Obviously, actually saying concrete things about Please Like Me isn’t part of the plan. Pointing out the show’s flaws would only turn off the fans, and people who aren’t fans aren’t going to read your article anyway – it’s only when something becomes so popular it’s impossible to ignore that it becomes possible to attract an audience of haters. So everyone writes the same crowd-pleasing article about how good Please Like Me is in the hope of attracting the same mass audience of mildly interested chumps.

Man, we’re totally doing this internet thing all wrong.