Friday, November 07, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: 'Summer Heights High' review

In today's column I review "Summer Heights High," an Australian import comedy that HBO's going to be airing beginning this Sunday (after "Entourage"). It's very reminiscent of (though not as funny as) both "The Office" and the Christopher Guest movies, with creator/star Chris Lilley playing all three major roles.

11 comments:

clare328 said...

I will say that, as an australian, I was not so enthused with SHH. It's huge over here, but australian TV has an obsession with cringe comedy - see the original Kath and Kim, for example, which is so close to real life it's unbearable - and I prefer to just laugh out loud. Mr G is really cringe worthy, and I just could not stand to watch any of his storyline. I will say that I own the single of the main song of the musical, which was released to huge furore from parents of pre teens who now go around singing about ecstasy.

Jonah is my favourite, but to really get a handle on Ja'mie, I recommend 'We Can Be heroes' -Lilley's first project that is really great, and where Ja'mie became popular. Basically, SHH began as a vehicle for the character and became much bigger thanks to Jonah and Mr G.

And I've just written a tonne, but I don't hear of Aussie comedy being shown stateside very often, and I'm curious to know if its as close to real life over there as it is here? I really do know someone just like each of the characters - particularly the guidance counsellor.

Faye said...

People are obsessed with SHH here in the UK, but its never really appealed to me as I cant get past the performance aspect of Lilley playing those characters. Though I keep thinking I should give it a go, but I dont have that much free time and my 30 Rock DVD calls stronger.

I'm definitely intrigued over how it will go down in the US, particularly as it seems at odds with much of its HBO companions - although I thought that about Little Britain too.

Anonymous said...

as yet another australian i too am curious , how well this will go down over in the us

i think the characters of jamie and jonah particulary speak to such specific australian high school subcultures that there might be a problem in communicating how real these characters are to people withtin the australian public school system

Anonymous said...

I didn't think much of this at first when it was on TV, then one day I rented out the DVD. It doesn't seem like much after the first couple of episode, but after watching all the eps, it's a lot more than I thought it was.

Anonymous said...

Anything has got to be better than Little Britain USA.

Anonymous said...

I've caught a couple episodes here and there and I suspect that I'd really like this show if I didn't hate Chris Lilley so much. He's a great comedian, but he grates on my nerves too much to watch a show that 100% Chris Lilley.

injera said...

Another Australian here. As a high school teacher, I've got to say that Chris Lilley really hit the mark with SHH. There were so many recognisable characters that it did force an Office-worthy cringe sometimes. The novelty of having students say "Puck you, miss" wore off pretty quickly, though...

It's worth looking at Lilley's We Can Be Heroes for the origin of Ja'mie (I think it's called The Nominees for overseas markets).

And, OT, but a really belated thank-you for your detailed analysis of The Wire. That's what brought me to this blog, but everything else has kept me visiting.

anonymous sd said...

My wife is an aussie so i've seen both this and We Can Be Heroes already. Both I really liked. Chris Lilley really does a great job taking over these characters -- not just dressing up as different people but really creating 3-D characters. Both shows are a treat, I hope they do well here. I agree with Entertainment Weekly when they said they are glad they are just airing the real episodes of this rather than bringing some hack in to remake the episodes.

MsM said...

Being of "Ethnic" origin I am disturbed that 98% of the time if any "minorities" are depicted in Australian TV & film they are usually depicted by Anglo actors (ref. Con the Fruiterer, Jonah etc). It reinforces that Australia has no interest in anything but the Anglo experience and is only comfortable acknowledging us from the Anglo experience.

I am 29 years old and cannot believe still how backwards Australia is.

Anonymous said...

I live in the US and i must say it is not all that popular. Yet. SHH is absolutely hilarious to me and it seems like such a reality. Props to Chris Lilley!

David said...

I also live in the states and love this show, but have a bit of tough time with some slang, and the sections where all the girls are talking at the same time. That jabber forces u to focus on jai'me, destroying what little character development occurred with her friends.

But yeah, its pretty real to me even tho i havent been a high school student since 1975.

and a very powerful final couple of episodes too