Okay, so our expectations weren’t all that high for Gold Diggers. Australia’s proud history of proud historical sitcoms doesn’t quite begin and end with Bligh, but good luck topping the “big tits, small dicks” scene from The Olden Days. And both those examples are old enough to be historical comedies in their own right. Why doesn’t someone try to make a sitcom set in the hilarious 90s? But we digress.
And with good reason, because otherwise we’d have to engage with Gold Diggers, a sitcom that doesn’t exactly waste a mountain of potential but rarely comes close to living up to it either. So what’s the joke? We were hoping you knew.
At first it seems like the comedy premise here is that our heroines – Gert (Claire Lovering) and Marigold (Danielle Walker) Brewster – are party girls who have shown up at the goldfields circa 1853 looking for rich dudes to relocate them onto easy street. Only they seem pretty picky for seemingly desperate women, and they’re not interested in lowering their standards either. Good for them!
Not so good for the show though, as after a few scenes where things don’t work out, the rest of the episode mostly involves them wandering around being brash and in-your-face in between being puzzled as to why this approach doesn’t seem to be working.
You know what else isn’t working? An approach to comedy that’s roughly 80% “wouldn’t it be hilarious if people in the 1800s talked like they did today, well not how everyone talks today just comedy dickheads?” Going by this kind of sparkling dialogue, no it wouldn’t:
‘All right, sis, are you ready to do this?’
‘I’m not not ready.’
‘Fire up, bitch!’
‘Fire up, bitch!’
‘Honestly, vibe is pumpin’.’
We’re not going to throw this one entirely under the Cobb & Co coach just yet, because it’s obviously a first episode where they’re setting up a lot of stuff and some of the dynamics – Eddie Perfect as a burly bartender who can’t seem to get it through to our (possibly time-traveling because how else to explain their lack of basic knowledge about society?) leads that women can’t drink in public bars in 1853 for one – have potential.
Also, everybody around the Brewster sisters seems to find them annoying, which is a sign that the series creators have realised they’ve created a couple of annoying characters. All they have to do now is realise that annoying is not the same as funny.
Any way you slice it, this feels like a first episode that’s woefully underdone. If the Brewster’s are schemers after rich husbands, make it a sitcom about that! But we also get a bunch of hints that the sisters are on the run, which is fine – but if they’re here because they’re on the run and hiding out and trying to make a go of it, make it a sitcom about that, because that’s not the same as being gold diggers.
(hands up anyone else who gets the feeling that the creators came up with the “gold diggers” pun and then half way through writing the first episode they realised that gold diggers is an offensive stereotype they didn’t want to perpetuate and oh shit now they have to rework the whole premise even though the only joke they had is the premise)
In fact, this bends over backwards to make sure you realise the two leads are actually sticking it to the man – well, all men, in the form of the patriarchy, via an awful lot of dialogue about literally taking on the patriarchy and other cliche internet feminism 101 lines (don’t worry, even the other female characters think they’re full of shit).
This could all possibly be meant to be funny in a “yeah right, as if people 170 years ago talked like this” way except it just comes off as the writers wanting to make sure we realise that despite their dire plight and violent surroundings our heroines are in no way going to be taken advantage of or lose their agency or be threatened in any real way.
Which is exactly what you want in a comedy. Only, you know, done better. A lot better.