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Film & TV

Sep 9, 2011

Julia undeserving of At Home with ... and so are we

Once I watched At Home with Julia, my discomfort flourished, bloomed and became generally exponential, writes author and editor Sophie Cunningham.

All prime ministers have suffered at the hands of satirists but the ads for At Home with Julia promised that this was going to be something else again.

As I watched it, my discomfort flourished, bloomed and became generally exponential.  By the end I was craving for Clarke and Dawes, for Max Gillies, for any intelligent satire.  To be honest, it’s unclear who actually will enjoy the show. It’s not actually very funny, give or take moments that illicit a wry smile. It’s too affectionate towards Julia to please those who don’t like her. It certainly fails to offer any political critique of her style and offers no real analysis of why it might be that Gillard is not the PM we hoped for.

On the other side of the coin, if you do have a soft spot for Prime Minister Gillard, you wouldn’t be caught dead watching it — there certainly aren’t enough laughs to make that a guilty pleasure.  As Peter Craven put it yesterday in The Drum, “You may think that she has presided over the demise of a once great political party out of nothing but a lean hungriness for power and that she believes in nothing … Even so, taking the dimmest possible view, Julia Gillard did not deserve this and nor did the nation.”

Which brings us to the S word. Sexist.  Yes, this show just felt a bit, well, wrong.  It belittled Julia Gillard in a way that no male prime minster has been, and it belittled her partner Tim Mathieson.  There is no doubt that being the PM’s partner is a tough gig but Matheison has bought as much dignity as he can muster to the role — as his predecessors Therese Rein Jeanette Howard, Anita Keating and Hazel Hawke did. (Though for me, Hazel was a real stand out first partner).  It’s not inherently funny, or pathetic, that Tim might have to do the household tasks or that he has a partner  who works long hours. Even if relationship clichés switcheroo-ed don’t offend you, they’re just kind of, well, meh.  If I was on Twitter I’d type *shrugs shoulders*

At Home with Julia is a symptom of the relentless drive towards trivialising politics and politicians, a trivialisation politicians themselves have certainly contributed to. The PM and Mathieson have helped this along by giving interviews about the state of their personal life, and whether or not they plan to marry. And despite my comments about sexism, I’d say it’s not just Gillard who’s belittled like this.

Bob Hawke suffered similarly in Channel Ten’s telemovie Hawke. That movie had good actors in it, including Richard Roxburgh and Asher Keddie and, in theory, much to commend it.  But, despite being called Hawke, it was really about Bob and Blanche. Instead of getting extended sequences about Hawke’s time in the unions, or his run-ins with Paul Keating, or, indeed, any scenes that dealt with issues of political complexity, we had to endure the sight of government policy being discussed after a good shag, in a range of hotel rooms.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m really, really uninterested in my Prime Minister’s sex life.  It’s like parent sex times a million. It’s also, well, not the point.  I want to know how these people’s brains work, not their other bits. The endless quickie jokes in At Home with Julie, or the gag about her perving on the hot tradesman just seemed stupid.  As Tony Wilson (@byTonyWilson) tweeted, possibly too succinctly on Wednesday night, don’t remember too much publicly consumed imagining of Jeanette riding John…

No, they did not. And for that I give thanks.

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38 comments

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38 thoughts on “Julia undeserving of At Home with … and so are we

  1. beachcomber

    The ads were bad enough. Prefer to watch the kettle boil.

  2. LisaCrago

    Oh com on Sophie, now if Gillard saw it in advance, approved, and said it was darn funny what is your problem, lost your funny bone. I doubt Gillard feels she has ‘suffered’ at all as this kind of satire is a compliment. Not to be sent up at all is an insult.

    Phil Loyd is just 150% hysterical as T-Bone as many of the reviews have noted.
    The first show actually made more fun of everyone except Julia; how do you think Mr Shorten feels. I bet even he laughed his head off as would have katter, windsor and oakshot.

    You have broken the golden rule of political satire – you have taken it seriously.

  3. Edward James

    I watched part of it, in fact I recall switching off just as the hat of Bob Katter came to the door! Bored with waiting for something entertaining! We are really scraping the bottom of the barrel with this garbage. No wonder we are being “yanked off” by TV and Movie offerings from overseas, to such an extent we are starting to speak with overseas accents and colloquialisms. Strine is dying and I believe not enough Australians are noticing! Edward James

  4. Jaryd Fletcher

    Personally I enjoyed it.

    Similarly to the Independents Four Corners piece last year it goes to highlight for the general public that people occupying positions of power are ultimately just normal people trying to get along with things. This is not a bad message to have.

    Even though I have a bit of an irrational dislike for John Howard but I still recognise that he essentially is some guy basically trying to do what he thinks is right even if I don’t agree with it or the consequences.

  5. JonoMatt

    “It certainly fails to offer any political critique of her style and offers no real analysis of why it might be that Gillard is not the PM we hoped for”

    Honestly, what did you expect? It’s a comedy, not an analysis.

    I didn’t mind it at all.

  6. Michael Duffy

    I can’t believe that someone described as ‘author and editor’ would write ‘illicit’ when they clear mean ‘elicit’. Wake up the subs desk, please. I didn’t even bother watching this lightweight tripe; the ads were quite enough for me.

  7. granorlewis

    Yes Sophie – you are absolutely right. And it was really unbecoming of the writers and the producers, to say nothing of the illustrious organisation that put it to air

  8. The Peak Oil Poet

    Silly little Julia, peculiar is Julia
    she thought that she could be a star
    prime mover and Prime Minister
    but stabbing and her grabbing
    power hasn’t seen a happy hour
    plunging popularity mistakes almost hilarity
    stupidity and perfidy and everyone can plainly see
    her enemy is is you and me
    when it should be the big money

    Silly little Julia

  9. John Bennetts

    What Michael Duffy said.

    Please, at least change the on-line spelling of the word.

  10. David

    “……………..imagining of Jeanette riding John……”

    That is really not fair. If I have bad dreams tonight and am forced to give myself a lobotomy with a dessert spoon to get that thought from my mind, I’ll be coming after you.

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