Okay, so despite Please Like Me tanking in the ratings- yes, despite wall-to-wall media attention in this country it rates less than, oh, every other show you’ve ever heard of – local critics continue to go nuts over it. Here’s a quick cross-section that’s been brought to our attention:
American and Australian critics compete in their love for the show. James Poniewozik, TV critic for Time magazine called it one of his favourites for 2013 and, more recently, the magazine gave it prime real estate in a story titled How an American Network Saved One of TV’s Best Twentysomethings.
The Top Ten Australian Characters on TV
1 Billie Proudman (Kat Stewart in Offspring, Ten)
2 Alice Ross-King (Georgia Flood in Anzac Girls, ABC)
3 The Micallef persona (Shaun Micallef in Mad As Hell, ABC).
4 Elizabeth Bligh (Noni Hazlehurst in A Place To Call Home, Seven).
5 Ja’mie King (Chris Lilley in Ja’mie: Private School Girl, ABC).
6 The Politician (John Clarke in Clarke and Dawe, ABC)
Josh Photo: Supplied
7 Josh (Josh Thomas in Please Like Me, ABC2)
8 Gemma Crabb (Julia Morris in House Husbands, Nine).
9 Caroline Tivoli (Claudia Karvan in The Time of Our Lives, ABC)
Gemma Crabb Photo: Natalie Boog
10 Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, ABC)
When the actual plot is explained, it’s clear that everything happening is fairly dramatic, but when you’re watching the show, somehow the Big Things that are so often Dramatic are treated with a comedic touch that manages to be light without making light of anything. They’re going for realism, Thomas told BuzzFeed, but it’s also narrative, and “stuff has to happen.” When you reflect on the show, he said, you realize, though, “Wow, he’s had a really rough fortnight.”
Plus glowing reviews in TV Week and The Green Guide.
Previously we asked why – why all this love for a little watched show on a minor channel starring a guy from Celebrity Splash and a bunch of Optus commercials? We concluded it was because Thomas was the kind of quirky inner-city goofball a certain segment of the Australian media could happily get behind – but it’s gone far beyond that now.
So now we reckon this: Please Like Me is one of the few – actually, it’s pretty much the only – Australian made television show being shown in the US. And because no-one in Australia is actually watching it, critics here can happily praise it to the high heavens safe in the knowledge they’re not going to be contradicted… which wasn’t a freedom they had with the last Australian show to air overseas, Chris Lilley’s Jonah from Tonga.
That makes pretty much all these articles and reviews talking up Please Like Me nothing but clickbait. For once Australian TV writers can talk about a local show – which they kind of have to, because no-one on the internet gives a shit about what they think about overseas shows (we can read much better overseas writers’ thoughts about them) – while also, in theory at least, taping into a much larger overseas audience of readers. More readers = less chance of being sacked and replaced with a slideshow titled Top Twelve Times Beyonce Yawned In Public.
Obviously, actually saying concrete things about Please Like Me isn’t part of the plan. Pointing out the show’s flaws would only turn off the fans, and people who aren’t fans aren’t going to read your article anyway – it’s only when something becomes so popular it’s impossible to ignore that it becomes possible to attract an audience of haters. So everyone writes the same crowd-pleasing article about how good Please Like Me is in the hope of attracting the same mass audience of mildly interested chumps.
Man, we’re totally doing this internet thing all wrong.