When a series such as Laid gets renewed, the conversation around it changes a little. No longer is it sufficient merely to attack it for being a complete and utter waste of time, for clearly by being renewed the ABC have indicated that they want it to be a complete and utter waste of time. If the ABC wanted decent and funny shows about people in their 20s, they would have renewed twentysomething; if the ABC liked the first series of Laid enough to order a second, it’s now their fault that we’ve been given a second series of pointless, unfunny, bland, erratic television. What was a massive flaw in series one becomes par for the course in series two and so our attention must drift elsewhere.
Likewise, when the unstoppable promotional onslaught from the Fairfax press that greeted the arrival of the first series of Laid has become a mild shrug of indifference to series two, another bone of contention gets thrown out for the dog. The totally disgusting and completely egregious displays of sucking up that appeared in the pages of The Age week after week as Fairfax staff fought for the right to tell us how amazing Fairfax employee and Laid creator Marieke Hardy was have largely been replaced by bugger all, presumably due to a combo of Laid series one not being all that popular and Hardy herself having to cough up a hefty sum after somehow managing to libel someone on the internet. So again, our focus moves on.
What remains is a show that manages to remain the completely pointless and borderline-creepy-in-its-attitudes-to-sex mess it was last time around while also somehow managing to come just that tiny bit closer to a show that might, with major structural and casting changes, actually work. If you think there might be a compliment somewhere in that last sentence, you’re right and we’re just as surprised as you are.
Laid 2 sees all our annoying, vapid, drivel-spouting friends back – yes, even the one they tried to suggest letting you know was back would violate some kind of last-season cliffhanger, to which we say if you’re going to do a cliffhanger do it right and have everyone in a bus that goes off a cliff and explodes and then DON’T COME BACK – only this time… well, it’s more of the same. Except that in the kind of logic that makes you want to nail bits of wood to your forehead then headbutt a circular saw, where last series Roo had a vagina that killed, now we have a new sleazebag comedy character with a penis that “heals”.
How this magic penis knows what parts of you to “heal” – it’s not like every woman he roots turns into a supermodel with a Stephen Hawking-level IQ, so clearly some flaws are beyond its magic thrust – remains as much a mystery as how Roo keeps pulling those gormless faces without someone kicking her head off. And the fact that most of what makes him such a sleazy scumbag are attitudes that are simply opposed to Roo and company’s hipsterdom is just another example of this show’s relentless opposition to anything or anyone existing outside the confines of the innermost of inner-city locales. But at least he’s markedly different to all the other cool kids! At least he sparks some minor conflict! At least he’s a semi-plausible source of character-based comedy!
The biggest lesson to come out of Laid is that it’s a lot easier to go around being hailed as a genius-level writer when no-one’s actually seen anything you’ve written. The hyperbole around Hardy has taken some serious blows over the last year, with Laid turning out to be one of those shows where everyone who feels they have to say something positive – that is to say, every professional TV critic in the land – ends up praising the acting while remaining tactfully silent on the way the plot made no sense, the episode to episode continuity was a mess, the characters were erratically written and the conclusion was plucked out of nowhere and answered nothing.
In that light, the ABC’s decision to almost immediately greenlight a second series was probably a blessing for Hardy. Without the pressure to come up with a second series she might very well have cut her losses, gone back to various media frippery for a few years until the accepted wisdom around Laid was that it was “under-appreciated” and “overlooked” and – well, go dig up any post 2008 references to her seemingly unflushable quasi-drama /blatant Secret Life of Us knock-off Last Man Standing, you’ll get the idea – before returning to television to once again show us she’d learnt nothing from her mistakes.
Instead, she’s found herself in a corner she can’t get out of by flashing her boobs. While you wouldn’t want to say she’s stepped up and proved us all wrong, the grey flavourless slurry that is Laid 2 does now occasionally manage to feel like something you might watch voluntarily rather than by accident. It’s still not actually funny in any way shape or form, but at least now it feels like the possibility of actually laughing at something on screen is there. Maybe.