I’m paraphrasing a bit, but Adelaide angry boy Daniel pretty much summarised the entire show while complaining about his brother Nathan pissing on him from the roof.
Five episodes into Chris Lilley’s twelve part odyssey Angry Boys and you can maybe see the threads of a storyline coming together – the characters are being drawn together for a ‘going away’ party for Nathan before he leaves the South Australian farm for deaf school. In another seven episodes we may see an Austin Powers style scene, with a plethora of Lilley characters together. Considering the quality of the show so far, seven episodes is a long time. You have to wonder if the payoff is really worth the distance.
Rather than developing this theme, this week’s episode was burning time with little forward movement, an obligatory episode if you will. Daniel tries to get payback on Nathan for pissing on him, Smouse! (now with added exclamation in his name) fights with his girlfriend and works on his new album, and the unconvincing Asian lady recycles script material from previous episodes. It all adds up to a piss joke told twice, a fart joke told twice, and Smouse! cutting his hit new track ‘Big Black Balls’. It’s hardly striving for ‘intellectality’.
In some ways Angry Boys is a victim of Lilley’s previous success – while attempting to make a show that will appeal to the largely different cultural markets of ABC Australia, HBO America and BBC UK it’s become large, unwieldy and impersonal. Relating to all the characters are impossible, so you’re likely to spend at least a third of the episode bored – especially if the only character you like is Gran. You’re out of luck until next week.
There’s also a chance that being the director, writer, producer and star of this series, Lilley has surrounded himself by yes men who aren’t brave enough to tell him that his material isn’t funny, less they anger their star. It’s hardly changing his previous mold of taking realism to an absurd level – but it’s managed to take the comedy element out of it. It keeps the extreme characters, but struggles to make them likeable.
While it was deemed a ratings hit in the first two weeks, the numbers have eroded since – last night’s fifth episode pulled in 848,000 viewers, coming in at sixteenth place for the night. Now that the novelty has worn off, Australian viewers are turning back to Glee, and even channel 9 repeats of The Big Bang Theory in droves. While it’s a shame that an Australian made comedy program isn’t doing as well as hoped, it still needs to be worth your time.