“I’ve got a text message here – why does the ABC bother making shows like this that nobody watches?” – Jon Faine.
“Can I just say, thank goodness the ABC is making shows like this” – Debi Enker.
Yes, it’s time to talk about Please Like Me – well, it was time to talk about it on 774 ABC Radio this morning, where the Green Guide‘s Debi Enker was giving a (final?) full-throated defense of a show that no-body’s been watching since season one.
This is nothing new, of course. But it was when she said words to the effect of “Please Like Me hasn’t been getting the attention, the audience, the acclaim that it deserves” that we choked on our weeties. Not been getting enough attention? Please Like Me? Say what now?
Let’s do a quick comparison here. How many articles / profiles did you see for the third season of Upper Middle Bogan? Just from a quick online search, we found a few references to filming having started, a couple of interviews – almost entirely from News Ltd – some mentions in the regular TV review pages and that’s about that.
As for Please Like Me… well, this kind of coverage is pretty impressive for a show in it’s fourth season:
Breaking just about every Australian television mould and taboo, Please Like Me speaks directly to a generation jaded beyond their years by everything social media has wrought upon their young lives.
And let’s not forget this, or this, or this – or the fact we’re talking about someone on a very popular morning radio show in a major capital city complaining that the show she’s currently talking about isn’t being talked about enough.
To be fair, Enker did say “it’s not really a comedy, it’s not laugh-out-loud funny”, which gets two big thumbs up from us. But then – and this is a move we’ve heard so many times before – she pulled out the ol’ “we’d love it if it came from overseas line”:
“We’re very quick to embrace idiosyncratic voices when they come from overseas, with shows like Girls and Louie, but we’re not so good when it comes to local talent”
Yeah, did Australia really embrace those shows? Were those shows ever embraced by anyone more than a narrow margin of comedy hipsters and online opinion writers? That’s not to say they’re bad shows – just that if they were made here they’d probably get the same mix of critical adoration and audience apathy.
And speaking of audience apathy, the real gold with this chat came when host Jon Faine got around to asking Enker how Please Like Me actually does in the ratings. Not great is the short version.
“That’s a low number under any circumstances” said Faine.
“That’s a disappointing failure,” said Faine.
“It’s a very disappointing return,” said Faine.
And we didn’t even mention the part where he said the ratings were so low they were within the margin of error for that kind of survey.
Enker, of course, is a professional, so she promptly brought up the magic of iView. But Faine, being someone who works at the ABC, was having none of that, pointing out that iView figures are only mentioned by the ABC when they’re good.
And have we heard the iView figures for Please Like Me?
No. No we have not.
Reading between your lines, I get the impression Faine was slicing a knife through Please Like Me, and absolutely hates it.
As a TV critic, Enker barely deserves her own blog.
There’s always that one person in everybody’s facebook feed.
You’re friends with their friends, and in group gatherings they’ve seemed nice enough. Charming. Playful. Fun. So you accept their friend request.
And then it starts.
The photographs of all their food with wacky captions. The pictures of their dog dressed up in costumes. The half-baked, hysterical political diatribes about issues they clearly don’t understand but want to appear to be passionate about. The videos of them playing moody ballads on guitar. Unicorn pictures. A recipe that their nan gave them. Puns about drinking wine that they think are post-ironic. Endless sun-drenched black and white photos of their friend who they obviously want to date. Memes about how to mock people who use memes. Updates that consist of the phrase: ‘Just don’t fucking ask’, so that people ask.
On and on and on.
This show is that. Even down to the name. Please Like Me. It doesn’t matter how often you click that ‘like’ button. It’s never enough. And it won’t stop.
For some reason Australian critics have been desperate since before the first episode of this show even aired to crown it proof that our industry, and they themselves, can be ‘hip’ and ‘now’ and ‘totes millennial, y’all’. And as the proof has continued to elude them, the hyperbole has gotten more acute. First it was how ‘unique’ and ‘fresh’ it was. Soon it was how its like ‘Louis’ and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and ‘Girls’ (so presumably not that unique). It wen through a phase where it was ‘niche’ and ‘cult’ viewing, now it’s ‘Anyone who doesn’t like this show hates Australia and good entertainment’.
When someone is that needy and offers so little in return, I say unfriend.