Mad as Mad as Hell

Is it just us, or is Mad as Hell going just a little bit harder in its final season?

We’re not exactly talking “the gloves are off” here. But there’s definitely a sense that, with not a lot left to lose, they might as well go right ahead and point out the many and varied hypocrisies underlying Australian politics today. Hurrah!

The glee with which host Shaun Micallef built up to this week’s story about the reveal that Scott Morrison was something of a one-man band as far as government ministries were concerned wasn’t surprising in itself. What was surprising – and entertaining – was just how over-the-top it was.

Morrison was crap, but him being the PM put some restrictions on coming out and saying “he’s crap”. That meant that Mad as Hell had to dance around the topic somewhat (see the increasingly pointed pause between “the Prime Minister” and “Scott Morrison”); now that he’s out of office, all bets are off.

And with a fresh government has come a sharper focus. Whereas in previous seasons some of the interviews have been wide-ranging rambles on current events, now more often than not the desk-based chats have a clear point to them. The Clarke & Dawe influence is currently shining through, and that’s never a bad thing.

It’s not just the overtly political interviews either. Financial advisors always give the same advice (“stick with it”) no matter how poorly performing the stocks? It might be a one-joke sketch, but it’s a good joke, the sketch is sharply told, and there’s even a punchline that doesn’t involve giving away a t-shirt.

Four weeks into Mad as Hell under an Albanese government and the difference boils down to this: Labor might have a range of problems and issues to make fun of – last week’s interview with not-Penny Wong made the very good point that Labor is better at international diplomacy because their internal power struggles push the best liars to the top – but at least they’re displaying a basic level of competence. The Morrison government? Not so much.

Blundering fools, self-serving scam artists and outright monsters are fun to mock, sure. But getting Mad as Hell to make fun of the Morrison government often felt like bringing a shotgun to a thumb-wrestling contest. Micallef and crew are a finely tuned comedy machine: Morrison and his cartoon cronies provided them with a lot to work with, but only in the same way as a elephant keeps the clean-up crew at the circus busy.

It’s a real shame this is Mad as Hell‘s final season for a whole range of reasons. Having the show deliver some of its best political comedy work on the way out the door isn’t exactly helping.

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