Chris Lilley’s highly anticipated show Angry Boys premiered last night on ABC1, and judging by the response it received on Twitter – it trended worldwide within minutes of the opening title – it’s fairly safe to assume that it was a ratings winner. As for the calibre of tweets, people tended to either comment on the show’s political incorrectness or praise Lilley’s satirical genius – sometimes both.
The half-hour episode only featured a few of the main characters set to entertain us over the next 12 weeks. Twins Daniel and Nathan Sims, initially brought to life by Lilley in We Can Be Heroes (2006) – a documentary-style comedy about five eccentric individuals all vying for Australian of the Year – were the first to grace, or rather deface, our screens.
The farm boys from South Australia, while identical and played by the same person, come across as completely separate entities. Daniel is crude, obnoxious, and constantly pokes fun at his near-deaf brother Nathan, to whom he donated an eardrum. Nathan is an avid skater and speaks with his middle finger.
Of all the obscenities that come out of Daniel’s mouth, this one about his mum’s new boyfriend’s dog, which he deems homosexual, stood out: ‘It wiggles its bum when it walks to attract other male dogs’. And their ‘Wall of Legends’ is something I can see catching on, though perhaps not to the level of ‘Ranga’ from Summer Heights High (2007).
Lilley also portrays the twins’ grandmother Ruth Sims, known as ‘Gran’ by the inmates of the Garingal Juvenile Justice Centre, where she lives and works as a prison officer. ‘We’re talking about real bad boys here, bad cookies,’ she says of the young criminal boys in the detention facility.
According to the guinea-pig-raising Gran, her job description also includes sports coach, chef, psychiatrist and surrogate family, but she says ‘I can be a real f—ing cow if I need to be’.
Set to appear in upcoming episodes are the likes of S.Mouse, a Los Angeles rapper under house arrest; Blake Oakfield, the ‘ball-less’ founding member of a surfing gang; and Jen Okazaki, a forceful Japanese mother and businesswomen.
The highlight of the show: Gran’s homemade superhero sleepwear for wayward teens. Who wouldn’t want a pair of Superman pyjamas complete with a press-stud-attached cape and matching doona?
The lowlight: I can’t say there was one. Lilley’s performance was enjoyable throughout; though there were a lot of morally and politically incorrect skits, which will undoubtedly get people talking. Gran’s organised soccer match between ‘light skins’ and ‘dark skins’ is just one example.
Regardless, the scope of characters that Lilley has both created and portrayed in Angry Boys and over the years is an amazing achievement. The ease with which he slides in and out of his unique personas has even been likened to the expertise of Barry Humphries and his seamless transformation into alter egos such as Edna Everage – an honourable comparison for any Australian comedian.
If people can look past the rawness of Lilley’s humour, like they have in the past, they will definitely benefit from what is another skilfully acted and cleverly written production.
Jessica Buccolieri is a Journalism Honours student at La Trobe University and a member of the upstart editorial team. She is currently writing a thesis about the effects of social media on modern journalism. You can follow her on Twitter: @bjessa.