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!!!!