An Anonymous Commentator Speaks Out

Another post about Laid? Really? Surely we should be talking about Ben Elton’s new show – a live sketch show no less – on Nine and Adam Hill’s new comedy-friendly chat show on the ABC, both of which start next week? Hey, don’t blame us – we’re just following the editorial lead of The Age’s Green Guide.

That’s correct: in a move that surprised no-one (well, no-one we know), in a week featuring both Elton and Hill’s debuts, the Green Guide instead decided to give Laid the cover. Not the cast of Laid, mind you, but writers Kirsty Fisher and former Green Guide columnist Marieke Hardy, photographed through such a soft-focus haze of Vaseline you’d be forgiven for thinking Barbara Streisand was back on tour.

At least the Green Guide had an excuse: they just love Laid! Well, they love Hardy, whose “saucy, self-deprecating cheek seems as fresh as when she first sprang to public attention almost a decade ago as the award-winning writer of tween series Short Cuts”.

[Remember Short Cuts? No? Lasted one year on Seven? Launched the acting careers of Damien Bodie and Alex Tsitsopoulos? Hardy won an Australian Writers Guild Award (AWGIE) for it? More behind-the-scenes info here]

Oh well, at least by mentioning a show she did that was critically successful (unlike Last Man Standing, which even the Green Guide has to admit only “found a modest and devoted audience” and was “undervalued”) this two-page story tries to justify why Hardy keeps getting the kind of press most unknown – c’mon people, every single TV writer in this country who’s not also an actor is unknown – writers would kill for. It’s not successful – the correct answer is “She’s the grand-daughter of Frank Hardy, has the right connections thanks to her ABC / Fairfax work, and will probably end up with a high profile commentator gig / big-deal position at the ABC so we’d better be nice to her” – but thanks for trying.

Anyway the real fun in this article (and attached review) isn’t so much the usual chit-chat with she of the “smutty, schoolboy humour” (read: she’s a girl who talks dirty, but she’s not a bogan so it’s ok) , but the way the writers dance around various aspects of the show that seem – to our untrained eye and yes, there’s a proper review coming soon – to be less than successful.

For starters, nowhere on the page does the word “funny” appear. Instead, it’s a “gentle black comedy” and a “sharply observed comedy of manners”. Oh dear. An actually funny comedy show doesn’t ask “is it tasteless and slutty to consider picking up at the wake?”, because who in their right mind thinks “gee, I’ve got a funeral to go to – better watch Laid to see if it’s okay to try and pick up at the wake”. Comedy shows are “funny”, “hilarious” and “laugh out loud”, not “sly”, “winning” and *shudder* “amusing”.

In slightly better news, Hardy says she would “rail against people thinking it’s a feminist fightback show. It’s not.” Really? A show based entirely and completely around the question of whether the female heroine will ever have a loving sexual relationship with a man again isn’t a feminist fightback show? Gee, last time I read The Female Eunuch I must have been holding it upside down.

There is some truth to be gleaned here though: Hardy’s dialogue really is full of “articulate zeitgeist references” and “liberally sprinkled with pop culture references”: why, in the first two episodes alone “assclown”, “sucks to be him” and the (unattributed) “I’m in a glass case of emotion” line from Anchorman get a run (and later on, someone actually says “LOL” out loud! Don’t worry if you miss it, someone then reminds you it happened for double the laffs). Sure, if you’ve actually been on the internet in the last four years pretty much all the references here are old, old news, but we are talking about the ABC here.

There’s more to say, but it can wait for a proper review – sizzle! Not that Hardy and the rest of the Laid team care: as this article tells us, “she’s sanguine about the inevitable brickbats that will be directed her way by anonymous commentators”. Because, as this story – and Hardy’s promo push in The Age over the last few weeks in general – has taught us, getting your name up front and out there as often as possible is what really counts in this business.

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