Tear Her Down

“I don’t believe in defining one’s sexuality – I’m pan-sexual.” “Is that where you rub your cooch up against a pan?”

That’s just one of the numerous, uh, gems you’ll find in Foxtel’s new Australian sitcom, Fix Her Up. Well, it’s not exactly Foxtel’s new sitcom: Fix Her Up first appeared on Channel 31 but has been snatched up by the national (pay) broadcaster, presumably because the opening credits are a halfway decent parody of the opening to The Nanny.

The show itself takes place in an almost all-female construction company: sales agent Jane (Katharine Innes) is the one who makes the cross-town trip (from Toorak to Footscray) in the opening credits, traveling from a world where actual humans live to one filled with cliches like the man-eating wog chick, the good-natured dim-bulb nerd and the hippie with a nasty streak.

If you’ve watched much Channel 31 comedy then you’ve probably got a good idea of what to expect here: minimal sets, slightly echoey sound, a cast that’s playing it broad and a lot of jokes-with-a-capital-J. Yeah yeah, we always go on about how important jokes are when it comes to making people laugh – it’s the be all and end all of comedy – but it does occasionally help if the jokes don’t feel like they’ve been hammered into place and the guy with the hammer’s still swinging. One of the subplots in episode one is about someone unwittingly tricking a co-worker into looking like her lesbian partner so she can win a holiday: subtle, this is not.

That said, while Fix Her Up is definitely rough and ready, it is at least trying to be (and occasionally succeeding at being) funny and that counts for a lot. Australian television comedy has, for the last decade or so, often been mostly about looking slick (those overseas sales don’t just happen, after all) with the comedy something of an afterthought; here it’s plain that getting laughs is the first goal… and if that’s because cheap gags are the only thing they can afford, well, we’ll take what we can get.

Don’t get us wrong. When it comes to Australian comedy this is in no way a high water mark; it’s more of a damp stain. But it does have a certain rough charm about it, mostly around the slightly more nuanced character of Jane (who is positioned as the one sensible person in her nutty workplace, so it’s not an accident). It’s an old-fashioned, broad-as-the-side-of-a-house sitcom, and these days that’s rare enough to make it worth a (possibly brief?) look.



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