The model and the charmless man

Isn’t Josh Thomas so loveable, with his cute hair and his innocent gormlessness? Look! He’s all curled up on his bed in the foetal position because THE HOTTEST GUY ON THE PLANET wants to kiss him. Feel his pain, everyone! That must be, like, TOTALLY AWKWARD!

Please Like Me is the story of 21 year old Josh, who can’t quite get his head straight about how he’s not straight. His relationship with Claire (Caitlin Stasey) ends when she points out he’s gay, then he doesn’t quite get it on with ultra-hot Geoffrey (Wade Briggs), then his Mum (Debra Lawrence) overdoses and needs looking after, except his Dad (David Roberts) can’t do that because he’s now in a relationship with the much younger Mae (Renee Lim). But just when the situation with Mum kinda sorts itself out – conservative battle-axe Aunty Peg (Judi Farr) comes to the rescue – Claire starts showing up at the flat Josh shares with Tom (Thomas Ward), which makes finally getting it on with Geoffrey even more difficult. Or indeed AWKWARD.

So, all the classic ingredients of the sitcom present and correct there…except the script misses opportunity after opportunity to make use of them in a way that’s really funny, which makes Please Like Me seem more like a hipster teen drama about nothing than a sitcom about young people coming of age. Thomas and the rest of the cast get us much out of the script as they can, and there are a few funny moments, but ultimately this show is about as empty as Josh Thomas’ Gen Y persona. Which is great news if you like stupid conversations about embarrassing genitals, but bad news if you want things to move things along to, well, something a bit more interesting.

The various will they/won’t they/why have they… moments in this series are all well and good, but they’ve been done to death by shows like The Office and are no funnier this time ‘round. Where’s the peril? Why should we give a shit? Josh is basically a dick who got very lucky, and who inexplicably maintains that luck despite treating his friends and lovers like doormats. That might be realistic if he was ultra-charming or occasionally nice to them, but he isn’t. He’s a self-indulgent, over-grown schoolboy, exaggerating his awkwardness and youth to get away with being a jerk, and Geoffrey, THE HOTTEST GUY ON THE PLANET, who likes him for no reason we can understand, should cut his losses and move on.

Which brings us to the question of to what extent that ditzy blonde Gen Y guy is a comic persona or the real Josh Thomas, and to what extent Please Like Me was a misguided commission that’s become a vanity project. Thomas’ multiple Tumblie-winning podcast Josh Thomas & Friend (the friend being Thomas Ward) was kind of a pilot for this sitcom, and as we’ve documented several times it was chock-full of awkwardness about sex and genitals, and totally uninteresting to anyone who’s attained any level of maturity, sexual or otherwise. Maybe there’s a clue here as to why this sitcom from a high profile comedian was announced with great fanfare several years ago, and then delayed and delayed until it now limps on to our screens in a two-episode block on ABC2. Has someone at the ABC had an AWKWARD moment of their own? Where they’ve realised that famous guy from that panel show isn’t actually very good? And he’s just using his sitcom to spend time being feted by admirers and canoodling with hot guys, whilst pretending he doesn’t give a shit? Far from being a shunted to ABC2 because it’s about gays, we suspect Please Life Me has been shunted to ABC2 because it’s just not very good. SUPER AWKWARD!!!!

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  • Roger says:

    See, I told you it would be crap!

    Like, OMFG, I can’t recall the last time I saw a “comedy” that was so slow. Those scenes in hospital with his mother just seemed to suspend time. It seems like all the “comic” material he had for the show was crammed into the first ten minutes, which actually moved quite quickly. But then the next 45 minutes just chased its tail. Comedy works best when it develops an internal rhythm.

    On the plus side, I thought the show was better than the festering arse-dribble that was Laid. At least Please Like Me is not just a collection of dick or other bodily fluid jokes (I’m looking at you, Chris Lilley). And so far we haven’t seen any giant dildos being thrown around (but give it time). It also had a semblance of a plot, which is not something that can be said about The Strange Calls. If they’d done some judicious editing, they could have made one decent episode out of the first two episodes.

    I’d be interested to know what its ratings were versus other ABC2 offerings.

  • Matlock says:

    What does Australian comedy/ sitcoms have against jokes? Please Like Me was a total bore it was just people talking and being awkward for an hour. ‘I’m sitting here watching Japanese manga”, “Um, no, anime is on TV, manga is what’s read” what was the joke there? I’ve never heard anime being referred to as manga or whatever, was the joke that she was obnoxiously correcting her despite being right, or I don’t know. ; I couldn’t wait until it was other so I can watch my recording of Lost Dog on Channel 31. I think those shows should switch channels

    And what, I should relate to all the show and it’s situations because I’m Gen Y? But it was a “honest potrayal” and that’s what Josh said he was going for. Why doesn’t he go for being “fucking hilarious” instead?

  • Kevin says:

    I went into it with some built-in bias, as I find Thomas’ comedy persona obnoxious. Gave up on Talking About Your Generation because I couldn’t stand him and how he played into the Gen Y as self-absorbed idiots stereotypes. Tried to give Please Like Me a chance though.

    Your review sums up most of the problems of the show. The pacing was glacial, a total comedy killer. You look at many of the best comedy series overseas (ie. Veep, Parks and Recreation, New Girl and Community) and they move really quickly and pack the time they have with jokes. Please Like Me is killed by these long pauses which are meant to be ‘awkward silences’ but just comes off as dead air. Playing a double episode also really highlighted how slow the show moves.

    Was very much unimpressed with Josh Thomas’ acting as well, didn’t think he showed anything more than his stand-up persona. Even less impressed with Thomas Ward’s acting, thought it was one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a professional production. Ward had zero screen presence and there was absolutely nothing interesting about his character from what was shown in the first two episodes.

  • UnSubject says:

    The “anime versus manga” is sometimes a point of pedantry online and one where you can be technically correct but no-one cares.

    I look forward to future episodes that hilariously outline the incorrect use of there, their and they’re. Or that you should say, “PIN” and not “PIN number”.

  • Matlock says:

    I look forward to the future episode where’s there’s just 25 minutes of awkward silence.