We’ll say this upfront: the worldwide success of Rostered On is baffling to us. Sure, all sorts of rubbish does well on YouTube, but Netflix? Even 7Mate? What?
Set in Electroworld, an electrical superstore of the Harvey Norman or JB Hi-Fi variety, Rostered On focuses on the working and homes lives of the everyday people who work there. And with gags about awful customers and weird colleagues, it’s certainly relatable. But funny? Er, not so much.
In the pilot and first season (once on YouTube now on Netflix), we meet Shaun, a young father supporting his wife and son who hates his job and dreams of becoming a full-time photographer. Also working in the store is Brett, the sort of arsehole who thinks he’s a thing with the ladies and is forever boasting that he’s going out that evening to “smash rivers of bitches”.
Again, both of these characters are very relatable, but Shaun never has any decent lines and Brett is just a prick who deserves to be castrated. Yeah, he’s that bad.
One of the funniest potential avenues for comedy in any sitcom set in a retail environment is the customers, who as any retail worker knows are all idiots. And true to form, so are the customers of Electoworld. Except these customers are too idiotic to be believable.
One customer doesn’t seem to know how a kettle works. Another complains that his new toaster has burnt his toast, seemingly oblivious to the dial which controls how long the toast stays in the toaster for.
We get what the makers of Rostered On are trying to do with these scenes, but the writing just isn’t good or funny enough. Nor are the performances, which are either under-rehearsed or over-acted. Or just given by people who can’t really act.
Frankly, series 1 is a bit of a slog.
Series 2, which recently premiered on 7Mate last week, is, as you would hope, an improvement. Sort of. All that Netflix and 7Mate cash has certainly resulted in a more professional-looking production, and the acting is a lot better, but the script still needs a lot of work.
Except, this time, the script problems aren’t in the quality of the jokes. It’s the lack of them. Rostered On now seems to have become a sort of dramedy, with more focus on plot and less on funny lines. Even the idiot customers have gone. It’s a rather odd thing. And what’s with Shaun not appearing in episode 2 at all? Isn’t he meant to be the main character?
There are attempts to be funny. Brett is now non-binary, and claiming to be a big hit with the gents, but his lines are exactly as crap as there where when he was straight. Similarly, Bob Franklin’s cameo in the second episode barely raises a laugh. Unless you start thinking about that time he appeared on Get This.
Rostered On is the sort of show that would seem impressive if it had been made by a group of Year 12s but looks frankly embarrassing in the context of Netflix. Even on 7Mate, where other shows on offer include Swift & Shift Couriers, it seems pretty poor. Conclusion: we remain baffled by its continued success.