What’s the Story?
Centres on the Sim family. Gran Sim works at a boy’s juvenile detention facility; Dan and Nathan are identical twins. Nathan lost most of his hearing in an accident. Dan is a tool.
As for the “story”, there isn’t a whole lot of plot in the first episode (no, I’m not watching more than that). It’s mockumentary style, so there’s a lot of talking to the camera but not a lot of plot development.
What’s the Problem?
My biggest gripe with Angry Boys is that Chris Lilleyis everyone. He’s three characters in the pilot, but will be six by the end. That’s a lot, and no matter how diverse an actor is, that’s a whole lot of one face that you’re seeing. Yes, there’s different make-up and costume and mannerisms, but there’s the same face beneath it. The same basic mannerisms and tone of voice and… face!
And there’s no reason for it. Maybe it broadcasts his range as an actor, but there wasn’t a whole lot of diversity to display in episode one so that’s not justification. It’s like Mike Myers being everyone in Austin Powers 3 – Powers, Dr Evil, Fat Bastard, and Goldmember. There was no good reason not to hire someone else for the role unless you’re a powermad control freak who won’t let anyone else touch his precious production.
That said, having the identical twins played by the same actor is fun, especially when they interact. But then, I’m the kind of person who enjoys working out how they accomplish those kinds of tricks.
Not Funny Enough
There are funny moments, to be sure, but not enough for me to really call this a comedy. It sticks rigidly to the mockumentary style and presents them as real people, never pushing their foibles to the point of true absurdity. And it doesn’t help that everyone who isn’t played by Chris Lilley isn’t given anything funny to do at all. Rather than this being a strong ensemble piece with multiple funny characters interacting, we’re constantly forced back to Lilley talking to camera because anyone but him is a distraction. This is The Chris Lilley Show, and everyone who isn’t him can shut up and get back in the background.
That said, Nathan’s description of “Mainies” – driving up and down the main street of the town – and the variations thereof – music mainies, BMX mainies, walking mainies- was great comedy. It takes a behaviour and exposes its absurdity by showing it in a different light. But there isn’t enough of that kind of humour to carry the show.
Bogans Should Have Shows Too
This isn’t really a problem, in a way, it’s a defence. There are people like these characters in real life, but we rarely see shows about them because they’re too offensive to put into a normal TV show. However, they are a source of comedy and I think they should be tapped.
After all, the show is aptly named. Angry Boys. That’s what you’ll find here. Angry people, swearing constantly, being racist and insensitive and selfish. It’s intended to display characters designed to shock and offend (a la Ali G and Borat, perhaps), but much of the time it’s offending without a point. It’s not showing us a foible of humanity, it’s just telling us to fuck off dickhead.
Are lacking. That’s the main problem. These characters don’t interact in meaningful ways with other characters. Maybe that’s the point – that these characters don’t have meaningful interactions with other people – but if that’s it’s point it’s not very well made and it’s still not as engaging as it would be if the characters were put under stress instead of just giving interviews of who can be the biggest dick.
Maybe that’s to come. Maybe the series will blossom with tragedy and drama in the coming weeks, but that’s not good enough. Shows need to start strong. Put your best foot forward. If this is Angry Boys‘ best foot, it’s a bit light on the plot. There isn’t anything for the character to talk about, so they just blather.
What’s the Solution?
I like my stories to be plot-driven, so I’m always going to be biased against character studies. That said, a character study done well is great, but the characters need to be interesting and put into some difficult situation. You don’t necessarily have to be on their side, but you need to understand and be interested in them. None of the characters in Angry Boys are interesting enough for me to keep watching.
I also don’t agree that we shouldn’t have characters who are foul-mouthed or racist or dickheads, but I do think that those characters should be making some social or comedic point. If they’re not funny or don’t make you think about why they’re racist or what that says about a culture, then why put them in? Nothing is taboo, but at the same time nothing should be done just to shock the audience. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, cut it out.
He’s taking strides to show a side of life that most shows – especially comedy shows – won’t touch, but it’s not engaging enough to keep me interested and it bugs the hell out of me that Chris Lilley is in every shot.