The latest series of Gruen wrapped up last week after yet another ratings triumph:
Gruen has ended a stellar run on ABC winning its timeslot again with 948,000 viewers. The show has never dipped below 900,000 all season (last week’s 897,000 was eventually adjusted to 900,000). Host Wil Anderson gave no indication if the show would return in 2016 -fingers xd.
Obviously our fingers are held in a slightly different fashion, given our long-running fondness for the series.
What is there left to say about the Gruen series of programs that we haven’t already groaned out while lying on the floor of a grimy pub toilet splattered in our own vomit? You all know the drill: we complain that they’re nothing but advertising for the very idea of advertising presented by a comedy knob fronting a panel largely comprised of sweaty advertising shills and soulless mercenaries that’s then edited into near-incoherency with a side serve of audience cutaways to convince you that somewhere someone remotely human found this crap funny. And then it rates its pants off.
Otherwise, we don’t have all that much to say, which is why we didn’t say much of anything at the time. Gruen has been
totally fucking inert remarkably consistent since it first began, and while it’s perfectly effective as blatant propaganda for the advertising industry and is fairly obviously in breach of ABC guidelines, as comedy it leaves more than a little to be desired. Which is probably the point, as playing on your desires is what advertising is all about.
Pretty much the only interesting thing we did think about during this year’s run is the way that Wil Anderson’s now no longer part of the Australian comedy scene. Hurrah! But seriously: much like fellow one-time ABC stalwart Adam Hills, Anderson now spends much of his time working on his career overseas, safe in the knowledge that he can wander back here when he feels the need and Australia will welcome him with open arms. He’s no longer in the “building” stage of his career here – all he has to do is maintain what he’s already got, while putting the real effort in elsewhere.
Sometimes this approach works, sometimes it doesn’t. Hills seems set enough in the UK that his lack of television work here isn’t a problem, while one-time talk show star Rove McManus seems to have returned from the US for good – to a radio gig alongside the star of the Bachelorette, no less – which goes to show that the rest of the world often really doesn’t give a shit. Anderson’s focusing on the US, which doesn’t seem like a country that actually needs “Wil Anderson”. but as he’s working on his stand-up the increased opportunities over there presumably make it worthwhile even if he doesn’t hit the big time.
And let’s be honest: after this year’s ratings bonanza – figures which would have been disappointing only a few years ago but is officially “amazing” for a Wednesday night ABC comedy now that the network’s fucked up that goldmine – Gruen is never going to go away. Anderson can slave away on the US stand-up circuit, or dick around on a banana lounge by the pool in Heyfield. It doesn’t matter: he’s got a steady income that doesn’t require him to do a great deal more than turn up and read shit jokes off the autocue.
Imagine if some actually funny Australian had that kind of professional security? Imagine if some halfway decent Australian comedian had that gig and spent the rest of the year working on riskier comedy right here, able to try new and different stuff safe in the knowledge that even if their idea tanked they’d still be able to make a decent living? Imagine if your tax dollars weren’t going to fund Wil Anderson’s dream of hearing laughter in an American accent?
Of course, comedy – and life – doesn’t work that way. What he does with his money is 100% his business; as the host of a hit show, he doesn’t owe us a thing once the cameras stop rolling.
He doesn’t seem to owe us much when the cameras are rolling either, come to think of it.