Five Alive!

For years we’ve been moaning about Chris Lilley’s sitcoms on this blog, and chief amongst our complaints are the rambling, incoherent plotting and characterisations, and the lack of laughs to be had from Lilley ensuring that his characters always end up on top. But in Ja’mie: Private School Girl episode five Lilley changed tack. A little…

Earlier episodes of Ja’mie: Private School Girl seemed to consist of little more than a bunch of noisy scenes that were only connected by the fact that they were dominated by the same character. But in episode five events from previous shows all came to a head when it transpired that Ja’mie had ruined her chances of winning the Hillford medal, getting to perform her dance at assembly and having a statue modelled on her…because a sexy Skype call she’d made leaked on to the internet. Oh no! Even better, all the honours were going to Erin, the girl from the boarding house Ja’mie had bullied. Poetic justice! And Erin and her friend got a couple of lines of dialogue. Wow!

For Lilley this is a break from the usual formula, and one that made us laugh a lot more than we have so far during this series…because it’s funny when horrible characters in comedy get their comeuppance. That’s how comedy works. Obviously we give full marks to Lilley for trying something different over the years – trying to get laughs from horrible characters triumphing – but as an experiment it was kind of a waste of time.

Which is why we were screaming at our tellies when we saw the promos for episode six, in which Ja’mie takes over assembly and swans off in a helicopter. She’ll probably fly direct to Hollywood with a hot billionaire too. And win the Nobel Peace Prize. Hilarious! We shouldn’t really have been surprised that the series looks set to end like this, but it would be a massive shame if Lilley abandoned a style that could work better for him and stuck to his usual, kinda crappy formula.

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  • BIlly C says:

    Apparently the ABC accidentally put a promo for the Jonah spin off from everybody’s favourite Zoo Weekly cover boy Chris Lilley. Not sure if it’s a whole series or a one off.

  • urinal cake says:

    I’m not sure if Lilley has enough good will left to be as popular as he was with SHH. Jonah is a better character than Ja’mie but not as popular. But I like Jonah and I hope he does the character out of school even if that breaks whatever canon.

    The episodes of Ja’mie have been improving joke wise but the plot is ugh. If there were more funny bits I wouldn’t be caught up in all the plot and character holes.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Even The Guardian is jumping off the Lilley bandwagon:

    Always nice to see the top end of town finally getting caught up.

    And this seems to suggest the Jonah news wasn’t a mistake:

  • Tristan says:

    Yesterday there was a teaser for Jonah on iview put in front of episode 5. I just looked at it now and it’s changed to a teaser for Phil from WCBH. It might be another multi character series – then again there was a question mark after ‘Coming soon’.

  • Billy C says:

    Yeah they’ve announced that there will be different trailers and all but one will be wrong. It’s Jonah thought.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Well, there was that Gran talk earlier this year. But Lilley’s only got the teen audience tuning in now, so you’d have to think Jonah’s the one.

  • urinal cake says:

    But broadly speaking he is correct this episode has picked up from the previous few episodes. As Jimbo would say, ‘it has jokes’. The whole report card nonsense is lame but a B- is too high.

    Next episode going by trailers and what you’ve told us looks action packed and should have laughs every I don’t know every 5 minutes? I think Lilley will come out of this redeemed from Angry Boys.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Uh, no. Ep 5 is pretty much the high-point story wise – the final ep is basically one big setpiece and then a string of endings.

    Ep 5 is probably the best (after ep 1) episode of the whole series.

  • urinal cake says:

    Ugh. The ending will probably have that Vitamin C/ Green Day song too.

  • Yeps says:

    The AV Club’s review for the first episode of ‘Ja’mie’ is not that glowing, and seems to indicate that despite HBO’s weird obsession with helping fund him, American audiences have never really seen the appeal.

    ‘Lilley has a different problem [to Tracey Ullman]: He ain’t all that. His ambitions far outstrip his imagination and abilities. As he becomes more successful (in Australia, at least), he’s begun stretching his own thin characters across bigger canvases. Angry Boys ran four episodes longer than Summer Heights High, with Lilley portraying a multitude of characters in the course of 12 episodes. With his new series, he’s scaled back to six episodes again, but every second of screen time is focused on a flimsy character who scarcely merits the viewer’s attention for six minutes.’


  • Yeps says:

    Actually, sorry – the part I meant to quote was this:

    ‘Ja’mie is so drawn-out and lifeless that the mind wanders, wondering if there might be something ugly about the popularity of this character. After all, Ja’mie gives Lilley free rein to portray youthful female sexuality as grotesque, and to depict a manipulative but successful teenage girl as if she were one of the most dangerous people in the world—all through the finely honed art of sloppy, transphobic drag.’