A Nation Divided

Sometimes we ask questions knowing full well the answer. More often, we ask them because we don’t have a clue. This falls firmly into the latter category: in 2016, what happened to Gruen Nation?

You all remember Gruen Nation: perhaps the most odorous and offensive of the Gruen family of smug back-slapping projects, it’s been trotted out these last few elections to provide all-important coverage of the increasingly unimportant world of election commercials. And by “coverage” we mean “praising our would-be leaders for spending millions of dollars on lying to the public”. Hey, if your panelists are all either ad execs, political journalists or ex-politicians, no wonder your show is shithouse… uh, we mean “biased towards maintaining the status quo”.

There’s been no starker reminder of just how useless Gruen – and especially Gruen Nation – is than the current media coverage about the recent Liberal Party commercial featuring what’s become known as the “fake tradie”. Every man and his dog has made a comment or written a story about it in the last few days. By now just about every possible angle has been covered, from “fake tradie shows how out of touch the Liberals are” to “fake tradie perfectly sums up Liberal values”. And now we’ve all moved on.

Unfortunately, if Gruen Nation was on the air it wouldn’t be getting around to dropping a sack of snark on it until tomorrow night. Which is no big surprise, as big election commercials tend to debut on Sunday night and Gruen in all its forms appears on a Wednesday. But being topical – or even all that insightful – isn’t really Gruen‘s job: like just about everything on today’s ABC, it’s about putting personalities on air first and foremost. Which means our dream scenario that Gruen Nation didn’t happen this year because someone upstairs realised it was crap is unlikely to say the least.

It’s not like it wasn’t being waved in front of our noses as a thing that was going to become a thing either:

IT IS one of the ABC’s top rating shows, and it looks like Gruen might be making an earlier return than we expected.

The show, hosted by comedian Wil Anderson and featuring advertising gurus Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft, was expected to be heading back to our small screens later this year. But it sounds like the earlier election — to be held on July 2 — could see it return sooner.

When Anderson sat down with Confidential in March while in Brisbane for the comedy festival, he hinted that this plan was well in place.

But wait, there’s more!

One of ABC’s most popular shows. ABC had been planning for a return for Gruen later in the year to coincide with the Federal Election. Now a July 2 election is on the cards, there are whispers it has hit the fast forward button. Wil Anderson has comedy touring dates until May 7 on his website. Also don’t rule out a return for Gruen Sweat to tie into the Olympics. “We have an Olympic year and an election year. (So between) Gruen Sweat and Gruen Nation it’s a perfect Gruen year, isn’t it?” Dahill teased earlier this year.

So what happened? Buggered if we know.

Perhaps they figured three election-based comedy (okay, “comedy”) shows would have been too much, especially with Sammy J’s Playground Politics kicking goals over on iView. Maybe they just couldn’t get the band back together in time. Guess people will start talking when they come to do the promos later this year for Gruen Sweat or Gruen Polo or Gruen Self-Promotion Wank-a-Thon 2016.

Obviously we’re not shedding too many tears over this. Sure, we can understand the ABC wanting to have their big ratings guns a-firin’ during the election; we’d just much rather they put to air shows that are a): entertaining, and b): not actively offensive to anyone earning less than $90,000 a year.

Seriously, in a world where Gruen Nation is a top-rating show on the ABC, do we really need the Gruen panel telling us that mainstream Australia is made up of easily-fooled suckers happily working against their own best interests by supporting a bunch of smug, sneering, wealthy parasites that treat them with contempt?

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1 Comment

  • UnSubject says:

    “Sammy J’s Playground Politics” is doing an excellent job and it’s a pity that it won’t be seen by more people. The 3 to 4 minute episodes ensures that the few jokes that don’t land can’t hang around and the Play School structure makes a lot of the comedy even more biting.

    I certainly wouldn’t ask for a longer election campaign, but I’ll be sad when this show stops.