Australian television hasn’t been known for its parodies for a while now – unless The Weekly really is a parody of a real news satire – so Get Krack!n took a little while for some to get their heads around. Often it wasn’t so much a parody of the style and format of morning television as it was sending up the attitudes behind it. Because those attitudes suck ass.
So while GK could and would run parodies of specific morning TV segments, a lot of the laughs, especially in the second season, came from the way someone would just bluntly express the thinking behind typical morning television segments – or just as often, talk about how that kind of thinking was fucked.
As an comedic approach this has diminishing returns: once the shock wears off, there’s not a whole lot left but the thrill of being told something you probably already know. And the back end of season two felt like it was falling into a bit of a rut, as the wild changes in format from earlier in the season were smoothed out in favour of a series of episodes where the big change week-to-week was the target of the satire (the lack of action on climate change, men). As these had been targets throughout the show – and often went back to being targets even after their big spotlight episode – it occasionally seemed like the series was running in place.
The show hadn’t really built up the collection of regular segments and characters that this kind of series usually relies on either, which was a bit of a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it gave the show a free hand to be whatever it needed to be each week; on the other, having to reinvent the whole thing each week left stretches of the show feeling dragged out to make up the running time. It wouldn’t have hurt to have a few regular segments that could have been adapted to the weekly topic – having a male co-host take over the show might have worked even better if there’d been a stronger idea of what the show actually was.
Having a stronger idea of who the Kates were as comedy characters would have been nice too. The Katering Show was about two friends doing a no budget cooking show that only one of them was into. Dropping those characters into breakfast television seemed like a promising dynamic, but gradually any real differences between the pair faded away. McLennan was always slightly more into it, but where The Katering Show (and early Get Krack!n) would play with this a little (McCartney would stumble into success to McLennan’s horror; McCarthy would surprisingly be excited about something nerdy), by season two both of them were roughly on the same page, which read WE’RE OVER IT.
Not that Get Krack!n was particularly well defined in any direction. Some episodes it was a cartoon where the whole show could be flooded out safe in the knowledge it’d never be mentioned again; in other episodes we needed an explanation as to why the male co-host wouldn’t be coming back (though that did set up that episode’s “no men” premise… which was only really used to have malfunctioning robot cameras).
Still, breakfast TV itself is pretty sloppy, so all this could be read as part of the satire. At least the Kates’ pregnancies was an on-going plotline that went somewhere, unlike that manipulative producer who was constantly mentioned throughout.
(seriously, was she just a plot device to introduce various elements to piss the Kates off? It really felt like it was a subplot that was leading somewhere, but then it just… vanished)
But enough of our griping, because none of this really mattered when it came to the final episode. In fact, a lot of what had seemed like flaws worked in the show’s favour in episode 8; while in-show the development that allowed the Kates to step out of the way on their own show was Kate McLennan going into labor as part of the ongoing pregnancy subplot, it felt like a logical next step for the show in large part because having the Kates walk away from their show felt like where things had been heading for a while.
One of the things Get Krack!n struggled with as it increasingly overtly tackled a range of social issues is that it never quite figured out whether the Kates were part of the problem. Getting indigenous actor-writers Miranda Tapsell and Nakkiah Lui in as their replacements solved that. The show had been openly and aggressively questioning the whole premise of a great deal of Australian television (and Australian society) at a time when POC and women are increasingly getting very, very fed up, and the only safety valve had been having a couple of white women hosting things. Once Miranda and Nakkiah took over, all bets were off.
There are a lot of different ways to be massively unfunny, and playing it safe is perhaps Australia’s favourite. Get Krack!n‘s final episode felt radical because behind all the messages about racism and the high cost of blending in it said something that’s been obvious (in comedy at least) for a while: the status quo in Australian television is dull and lifeless, and when you get rid of the people with nothing left to say the people who replace them are going to be a lot more interesting.
We know we bang on about The Weekly a lot here, but you don’t have to be us to see this episode as a direct retort to five years and counting of Charlie Pickering and Tom Gleeson running the same segments into the ground on The Weekly. Give those spaces to people with something to say and they’re going to make much better use of those spaces.
Of course, not everyone was happy with a finale that challenged the status quo:
The ABC is reviewing allegations of editorial policy breaches after it received a number of complaints relating to the final episode of satire program Get Krack!n.
A spokesman for the national broadcaster confirmed to The Australian it had received “fewer than 20 complaints” about the finale, which attracted 365,000 national viewers on Wednesday night, but said the episode did comply with ABC editorial policy and standards.
“We have received fewer than 20 complaints about the program, along with compliments. We will assess all complaints that allege breaches of ABC editorial policies and deal with them according to our usual processes,” an ABC spokesman said.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority also received a “handful” of complaints relating to the final episode, however referred the complaints back to the ABC.
And no wonder:
Along with being littered with the f-word and c-word, it featured male and female genitalia and ended with Lui attempting to defecate on a cushion featuring the face of a white woman.
Said “white woman” being one of the show’s hosts. But we guess saying “featuring the face of Kate McLennan” wouldn’t have sounded quite so shit-stirry, hey?
Which suggests that from a number of different directions the Get Krack!n finale accomplished everything it set out to do.