We all know that Aftertaste is barely a comedy so let’s just take it as read that the first episode of series two was pretty much as laugh-free as you might have expected if you’d ever actually given the prospect of a second series of Aftertaste a moment’s thought. So here’s another question: why isn’t it about food?
The set-up for series one was probably the best thing about it. High profile, high maintenance chef Easton West (Erik Thompson), having torched his bridges overseas, slinks back to his family home in the Adelaide Hills, where his young would-be pastry chef niece Diana (Natalie Abbott) latches onto him. They’re the original odd couple!
This dynamic didn’t really go much of anywhere, as for some reason we instead got a bunch of stuff about wacky drug trips and a kindly old bugger who might as well have had I DIE AT THE END OF EPISODE FIVE tattooed on his forehead. Did Diana storm off at the end of last season having baked a cake with a slightly offensive message written on it? Sure did!
Series two flips the script. Now Diana is the famous one, a star of the UK culinary scene who returns home with a handsome fiance in tow and the world on a string. Meanwhile Easton has given up cooking, lives in a dump, sleeps in a bunk bed, and can’t quite figure out if laconic local landowner Margot (Rachel Griffiths) wants to sleep with him or not.
The big problem here is that the first season did almost nothing with the central dynamic besides have Easton insult Diana while she pulled various faces; reversing it barely changes anything. As for the other subplots, after last series did we predict that no-longer dead grandma June would turn up to cause havoc? Sure did!
So let’s not linger on the fact that out two leads are forced to work together as part of a community service sentence for firearms charges. Yes, that’s basically the thirty year-old joke from Seinfeld about a shitty sitcom based on someone being sentenced to being their enemy’s butler. Australian television, ladies and germs.
But where’s the food?
This is a dramedy about two chefs. Food in all its forms has never been more popular in Australia, and not just because eating out is pretty much the only reason to leave the house. We are living in a golden age of foodie content and yet this show – set in a region known for its food and wine, based on two characters who are, let’s say it one more time, both chefs – barely seems interested in exploiting what is easily its strongest selling point.
C’mon: one of the biggest shows on Australian television is literally just people cooking food. People love reality shows about cranky chefs struggling to get their slacker kitchen staff in shape. You barely have to turn your head to find some food-related content people will tune in for. And the first episode of series two of Aftertaste? Wacky hijinx at a wedding. Does the bride spilling wine on her wedding outfit count?
We don’t expect Aftertaste to be funny. That ship has sailed. But when it can’t even be about food? At a time when food is a sure-fire crowd-puller? Don’t come the raw prawn with us.