Well, this took us by surprise…
…and yet, in a lot of ways, it makes perfect sense.
Look, we’ll be honest: Team Tumbleweeds is divided on this. Not on whether Judith Lucy is any good, of course: she is, end of story there, no further correspondence will be entered into.
Judith Lucy has always been a divisive figure (go check out the more misogynist comments on the above announcement for more on that) but if she’s not quite in the “Much Loved” category then she’s unquestionably a “Much Loved Cult Figure”, with a sizable and dedicated fanbase. Also she’s funny, so like we say, end of story there.
And we’re not even divided on whether this is a good move for The Weekly – assuming there is anyone out there who thinks The Weekly is doing a good job just as it is. Given that her predecessor Kitty Flanagan was very much following in Lucy’s footsteps when she started out in stand-up in the mid-90s, this isn’t much of a departure. You could even argue that clearly The Weekly has enough nouse to realise their show’s a bit of a blokefest, so who better to change that than Judith Lucy?
As much as Judith Lucy is well above announcing her appointment in crap parody of Married at First Sight, we like her style in calling them out for it, mid-parody. It suggests she won’t be taking Pickering and Gleeson’s smug crap, anyway.
Where we’re divided is on how much of an impact Lucy’s arrival will have on the show. Some say Lucy is such a strong charismatic performer she’s bound to carry the show with her simply by being a regular; others point out that hey, there’s Briggs getting a grand total of zero lines in that promo, guess they’ll keep on having him on once every seven episodes so they can defuse the argument that the show is just a fucking boys club where Pickering and Gleeson glad-hand each other each week.
Lucy isn’t some kind of loose cannon here to blow up the system: she’s a safe pair of hands who’s been a regular on shows like Rove, Hughsey We Have a Problem, The Project and Studio 10, so being funny in short segment form isn’t a big leap for her. And does anyone really think The Weekly in 2019 is going to make her a fully fledged co-host? She’s replacing Kitty Flanagan, so it seems reasonable to assume she’ll be getting the Flanagan slot: five minutes or so two weeks out of three while Tom Gleeson gets two segments every week and Pickering’s name is on the masthead.
Our other big hope for Flanagan’s replacement going into 2019 was that they’d find someone with an explicitly political approach, considering there’s an election coming up and the ABC don’t seem to be interested in lining up any other prime time political comedy. Much as we love Lucy, overtly political comedy isn’t usually her bag and we doubt she’s going to start now. Hopefully they’ll figure out some other way to get more obvious political commentary on the show, because their coverage last year of the Liberal’s leadership spill was embarrassingly shithouse.
And that’s why we’re mixed about this announcement. Lucy is a great performer and anything that puts her on our screens more is to be applauded, but Lucy is also a skilled professional who can and will slot into an established show without rocking the boat. And rocking the boat is something the predictable, boring, and increasingly irrelevant The Weekly desperately needs.
Still, who knows? At least they didn’t hire Kate Langebroek. So, let’s file this under “cautiously optimistic”. Clearly The Weekly can’t be relied on to improve itself this far into proceedings, but hiring the best possible replacement for Kitty Flanagan – and one of the best stand-ups in this country – is a move in the right direction.