Australian Media Eager to Please

Back when the ABC was running promos for Please Like Me and The Ex-PM pretty much back-to-back, we noticed something a little unusual: while the commercials for Micallef’s show focused on people actually saying and doing funny things, the Please Like Me spot only showed one thing, over and over – people laughing. Maybe we’re a little off-base, but when you’ve made a show that’s actually funny, usually you have funny things to show people; having your cast laughing uproariously at nothing suggests that there’s nothing to laugh uproariously about.

But the promotion for Please Like Me was testing the limits of words like “shrill” and “desperate” long before that. Take this interview with star Josh Thomas in last week’s Fairfax press:

His hard-to-classify show offers a deft counterpoint between the simple pleasures of life – cooking, sharing meals, raising chickens, running along a jetty – and its tougher and more complex challenges: dealing with death, depression and marital breakdown. Like a number of contemporary productions – Girls, Louie, Transparent, TogethernessPlease Like Me doesn’t sit comfortably in a conventional comedy category.

And yet, unlike a number of contemporary productions – seriously, you’re comparing it to Louie? – it isn’t very funny. Even if you’d never seen the show and could only imagine how unfunny it is, that description alone would tell you that hey, this isn’t going to be funny. It features both cooking AND sharing meals? Plus running along a jetty? Wow, that’ll totally balance out all the death and depression.

Then there’s this bit:

Here, though, screening on ABC2, it hasn’t won the audience or the acclaim it deserves.

So we searched for “Please Like Me” on the Fairfax website: 140 results

Then we searched for another Australian comedy show based around a local comedian and which aired on a secondary free-to-air channel for two seasons: 31 results for Kinne.

So yeah, no shortage of acclaim there.

And yet the ratings have been in the toilet pretty much since week one of series one. Could it possibly be that “the best show you’re not watching” is in fact “yet another show audiences don’t like the look of”?

Loving up Thomas isn’t the sole province of Fairfax, mind you – though the fact his twee inner-city antics overlap pretty solidly with what they seem to believe is their core readership (and how’s that working out for you sales-wise guys?) does mean Fairfax is your home of Thomas gush – because oh look, the crack team at DeciderTV have decided to take a swing at talking him up. And also putting his twitter handle in the headline, which is taking “hey look at us!” to a whole new level.

Created, written and starring comedian Josh Thomas, Please Like Me has developed into becoming the most entertaining and surprising comedy on Australian Television.

“Developed into becoming”?

On one level Please Like Me takes on the role of a Generation-Y coming-of-age comedy similar to HBO’s Girls series in the US. However this programs ability to confront issues such as depression, aging, and mental disorder with such brutal honesty and humour makes it a far more compelling and sophisticated program than Lena Dunham could ever hope to create.

Because Girls never tackled depression and mental disorder. Also “HBO’s Girls series in the US”?

The episode includes an honest, raw, and at times confronting sex-scenes between the two men, but it also includes some outstanding dialogue that is both blunt and highly amusing

“an honest, raw, and at times confronting sex-scenes”. Why have we got the lyric “we are one, but we are many” running through our heads?

Okay, we could pick on their stilted prose all day – seriously, take a look at their site if you don’t believe us – but that’s not the point. No doubt there’s plenty to praise about various aspects of Please Like Me; it looks good, the cast are plausible in their roles, it focuses on areas Australian comedy often ignores (a gay dude dating, not death and mental illness). But it’s better than Girls? It’s the most entertaining and surprising comedy on Australian television? It goes its own way, shaped by the vision of a distinctive creative talent?

Wow. Guess they’re going to get a shock when our review goes to print.

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4 Comments

  • EvilCommieDictator says:

    Girls appeals to a similar audience, and if you’re not in the catchment I’d argue you’re not going to find it the least bit interesting

  • Bernard says:

    I’m baffled as to why the ABC markets PLM as a comedy, when it’s clearly not. There is not one thing in it that could be considered comic. It appears to be a self-indulgent exercise in Josh Thomas acting out his erotic fantasies, with a big dose of navel-gazing thrown in to pad the show out.

    The worst thing is that no matter how badly it rates, it’s still going to get renewed.

  • Bernard says:

    The ratings for PLM were 129,000 That’s certainly an improvement over season 2, which got only half that on ABC2. But geez, seriously, why does ABC keep flogging this crap? If history is any guide, the numbers drop even lower for later episodes of PLM. Do they like being humiliated?

    This is surely the lowest rated first-run ABC1 comedy in history. Correct me if I’m wrong. Even worse figures than Laid or 8MMM or Outland. Seriously, has there ever been anything this bad on ABC1?

  • Bwock says:

    This show fails at being like the comedies mentioned, especially Louie, because it delves into these darker, more serious corners, but lacks the genuine humour and insight that helps the viewer deal with exploring that.