The problems with Rosehaven

Rosehaven. It rates well, it’ll probably come back from a fourth series, and it’s made in a part of Australia we haven’t had any sitcoms about ever and where not much TV is made. What’s not to like?

Rosehaven series 3

Well, as comedy fans – you’ve heard of us, we think sitcoms should focus first and foremost on being consistently funny throughout – we have a few issues with this show…

First thing: it’s not consistently funny throughout. There are numerous decent lines and comic back-and-forths, particularly between Emma (Celia Pacquola) and Daniel (Luke McGregor), but most of the time it’s about the plot. And what charming plots they are…

  • Emma and Daniel have to hold a memorial service for the deceased former resident of a rental property, to give mourning neighbours the closure they need to stop them from bothering the current occupant of the house.
  • Daniel finally discovers the location of offensive graffiti about himself that was written by the school bully 20 years ago – and tries to go about removing it.
  • Emma and Daniel get stranded on a backroad and seek help from a guy living alone on a small property, but immediately become paranoid that he’ll kill them when they see him wielding an axe.
  • Daniel’s girlfriend Grace presents the result of her medical study on the long-term residents of Rosehaven, which the long-term residents think should be an awards ceremony for who’s most healthy. So Grace turns it into an awards ceremony with categories including Highest Potassium Level.

…in the hands other comedians, these would probably be a lot funnier. But in the post-Please Like Me world, that seems to be an unfashionable approach. Laughs are few and far between, and often confined to the banter between Emma and Daniel, rather than coming from the plot or secondary characters.

Rosehaven is more interested in being quirky and kitsch than it is in making people laugh. Those mourning neighbours? They were largely played by ex-Home & Away actors of a certain era. And while Norman Coborn (AKA Donald ‘Flathead’ Fisher) and Debra Lawrence (AKA the second Pippa) are fine choices for elderly neighbours, it’s also very on-brand for Rosehaven to engineer an 80s/90s Home & Away reunion for no reason.

SIDEBAR: At least the Prisoner reunion on Neighbours sort of makes sense in that both shows are made by the same production company and at the same studios.

ANOTHER SIDEBAR: If you’re going to cast some 80s/90s soap actors as neighbours, why not get some 80s/90s actors from Neighbours? At least that’s a pun.

Speaking of soap operas, it’s increasingly clear that Rosehaven is basically a soap opera in comedy’s clothing. A sort of SeaChange about people in their 30s, complete with on-trend tropes such as the comedy of awkwardness and anxiety. It’s a pleasant enough and easy watch, but it’s almost never funny. Which for a show written by stand-up comedians, who are all good at being consistently funny, is pretty odd.

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