Slushy, Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney’s new audio comedy series for Audible, is set on an Antarctic research station, but, really, it could be set in any workplace. For Slushy isn’t about how hilarious it is to research penguins; it’s about people. From those who are anxious, depressed and inadequate, to those who are arrogant, pretentious and idiotic, all the characters in the Slushy universe are just trying to survive.
Central to the story is Maya (Pallavi Sharda), a drama school drop-out and retail worker who lied her way into a job as a research assistant on the station’s penguin program. Constantly on edge and with no discernible talent or aptitude for the world of scientific research, Maya bumbles her way around the base and its out-stations, forced to endure all manner of hardships.
These hardships are mostly in the form of her colleagues, such as Kyle (Greg Larsen), a particularly well-drawn example of the sort of ambitious, brazen grifter who habitually tells his colleagues he’s more senior than he actually is. Also at the station is Embeth (Kate McCartney), a pretentious, sex-obsessed weirdo, who’s there as the artist in residence, Kehan (Dilruk Jayasinha), an anxious, pedantic researcher, Claire (Zoe Coombs Marr), a depressive who’s worried about the climate crisis, Murray (Shaun Micallef), a grumpy older man who just wants to be left alone to do his work, Nat (Kate McLennan), a sort of Jill-of-All-Trades, who ends up doing everything from running the station’s bar to being the resident hairdresser, and Mary (Rebecca Massey), the unflappable Head of Station.
These and a number of other characters (played by Eddie Perfect, Dave Lawson, Anne Edmonds and others), form the core of the series, popping-up to help and hinder Maya as she arrives on station, completes basic training, and then finally has to do some work. If you call trying to count thousands of penguins who are constantly moving, at the behest of your tough-as-nails, terrifying boss, Catherine (Kris McQuade), work
But, like we said above, the work of the station isn’t really the point here. Slushy is a show about having to get on with others, and occasionally trying to get it on with others (top marks to the cameo from Paul F. Tompkins as sleezy American pilot Rick, by the way, a classic McLennan/McCartney parody of an alpha male).
If you’re a fan of McLennan and McCartney’s previous work like Get Krack!n (has it really been two years since Get Krack!n?), then be prepared because Slushy is a little different in tone. It’s less hard-edged and less-political, even if it’s still got plenty to say about traditional gender roles and the climate crisis. In fact, Slushy might be a show to recommend to someone who didn’t like Get Krack!n, and prefers their satire a bit softer and their laughs a bit lighter.
Slushy is the trad sitcom we’re slightly surprised McLennan and McCartney wrote. Having said that, the final couple of episodes of Get Krack!n were a sort of an acknowledgement that they couldn’t stay on that particular comic path forever, so maybe this change of direction shouldn’t come as a surprise? The important point, though, is that Slushy is funny. And laughs are always good.