Just when we thought it wasn’t possible for the ABC to make any more of those “a personality explores…” shows, we get a media release in our inbox saying this:
Myf Warhurst, star of ABC TV’s Spicks and Specks, will return to ABC1 next year with her very own six-part documentary series – Myf Warhurst’s Nice.
Myf will take viewers on a cultural crusade exploring some of the favourite things from her youth.
So far, so Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure? Well, sort of…
It’s a show that embraces past cultural icons and takes a closer look at what surrounds us – the stuff you find in your own living room rather than in a gallery or museum. It’s a celebration of all the things that are just, well… ‘nice’.
The show will be a nostalgic journey to find out what our popular taste says about us as a nation. Along the way Myf will ask whether these ‘nice’ things tell us more about who we are than we are prepared to admit, and in order to fully appreciate what’s ‘great’, do we also need to embrace the ‘nice’?
It’s been a long road from Myf’s early years as an isolated country teenager, desperate for an ’80s spiral perm, to co-hosting one of Australia’s most popular entertainment programs. On the way, she realised that even though she was a little ashamed about some of her early life experiences, on closer inspection, ‘popular’ is not necessarily a dirty word.
Whether it’s the embarrassing family portrait, the humble dim sim, Copperart, or an unhealthy obsession with cheesy love duets, the fabric of Myf’s youth has gone on to influence her tastes today. And she’s not alone.
“I’m digging out the bedazzler, putting on my oversized koala wool knit jumper, and travelling the country to rediscover some of my favourite things, and meet some of my teenage heroes along the way,” says Myf. “Many hilarious (and occasionally dubious) things have shaped who I am, so it’s time to give them credit. And as far as life dreams go, I never got to marry Kenny Rogers so this is the next best thing.”
Because if there’s one thing we need more of on television it’s celebrities getting nostalgic about stuff we all happily abandoned decades ago. Yes, Myf Warhurst may knows her music, but do we really care what she (or anyone else) thinks about Tickle Me Elmos, hypercolour t-shirts, or any of the other 80s/90s crap she’s going to dig up for this show?
Reading the media release just made us feel depressed. Depressed that TV producers think we’d rather sit through what looks set to be a fatuous meander around a topic that’s basically irrelevant to everything, than watch a new scripted comedy that possibly has something to say. And then even more depressed when we realise they’re right.
You can’t win in this game. On the one hand there are people out there writing original comedies that only hit the mark with a small audience, if at all (and don’t get us wrong, many of those shows deserve to fail), and the other hand there are programs so bland and inoffensive that only the truly bitter and twisted (Hello!) could possibly object to them. Where’s the middle ground in this? The “personality looks at a topic” shows which are funny, well put-together and come to a worthwhile conclusion, or the original scripted programs that are well-written and interesting. Joy of Sets, perhaps? Here’s hoping.