Why dramedies suck with reference to Austin and Colin from Accounts

With dramedies seemingly the only scripted comedy genre that anyone in Australian television or streaming is prepared to make right now, we expect a lot of the relatively few which turn up. Sadly, what we get from shows like Austin and Colin from Accounts, are shows which feel written to a formula and contain few laughs.

Austin started off well in that it got a few decent laughs from the Australia/UK cultural clash, and from the almost affair between Ingrid (Sally Phillips) and hot barman Luke (Tai Hara). The titular character’s autism and how others reacted to it, also made for some good (sensitively handled) comedy.

Austin in a tree-lined street with a shopping trolley cart
Michael Theo as Austin

But when the action moved to London, and tension between Austin (Michael Theo) and his estranged father Julian (Ben Miller) heated up, things became more serious. Right on cue, in the second-to-last episode, something big happened which could tear the family apart. Also, there was romance in the air. Light and shade, remember, are so important in this sort of soapy drama.

Colin from Accounts, on the other hand, decided to schedule its big dramatic moment, which could tear the family apart, for episode six. And, yes, just like Aftertaste before it, they killed off an arsehole old bloke character. Although, admittedly, this was an arsehole old bloke character we only got to know in that episode. This meant he had to be – and was – a 1,000,000% arsehole out of the blocks for us to react strongly to his death. And the actor John Howard played him brilliantly.

But don’t worry folks, the drama (not comedy) caused by this death, was balanced in episode eight by that other well-worn plot point of dramedies, a wedding with a twist (see also Rosehaven).

Ash hugging Gordon while holding dog food
Patrick Brammall as Gordon and Harriet Dyer as Ash in Colin from Accounts

If you’ve been watching Austin and Colin from Accounts and wondering if there’s a tick list of plot points that Australian TV producers seem to want in dramedies, then you’re not alone. And assuming there is such a list, it would seem that “a sub-plot about someone getting cancelled” is also on it.

The notion of “someone being cancelled” is topical, of course, and prime clickbait, but based on Austin and Colin from Accounts, it doesn’t often translate into laughs or good drama. Part of the reason is that in both shows the man who got cancelled deserved it; you shouldn’t re-tweet Nazis (Julian in Austin) or hit on your students (Lee in Colin from Accounts). Also, while both men lost their jobs, they still live in big expensive houses and still have lots of money. So, why should we care? *

Colin from Accounts did have a go at delving deeper into the world of being cancelled, with an episode about Lynelle’s anti-cancellation action group “Women Against Women Against Men” but it was fairly unconvincing as a take on the backlash against cancellations. Even if it did make a strong statement about Boomers lacking younger generations’ understanding of the issue.

Overall, it’s easy to walk away from shows like Austin and Colin from Accounts disappointed. For every part of the show which is interesting or worthwhile, there are a dozen things which you’ve either seen before or could have been better done. That, and they’re not particularly funny.

* If you want a much more interesting, and far less formulaic, take on a well-off white man being cancelled, we suggest Douglas Is Cancelled, which recently aired on the UK’s ITV. It also includes some quite funny digs at the world of comedy and the line “sitcom is dead”. Which, sadly, is true.

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