SPOILER ALERT – the following dicusses the final episode of Angry Boys, so if you’ve not seen it and don’t want to know, stop reading now and come back later.
The final episodes of a Lilley series are always special. There’s always a distinct resolution, even if it’s the one you weren’t expecting. From the outset there was no way – NO WAY – the legends were ever coming to a little South Australian dot on the map called Dunt. The opening scene with Daniel lamenting as much to camera was expected, but importantly the party had to go ahead to farewell Nathan for both twin’s sakes.
Ruth “Gran” Sims was my favourite character from this show, and all of Lilley’s work. Her tough-talk, no bullshit attitude mixed with a genuine empathy reminded us all of elements of our own Grandmas, or how we may have liked them to be. The reveal of her suffering the early stages of Alzheimers was well crafted and wonderfully interwoven into the story as a distinct plot device. It could have been left at that but including it as the reason she forgot to invite the legends left Daniel torn between feelings of teenage rage and sincere love for his Gran – how could he be angry at a woman that loved him and he loved so much, yet let him down so distinctly?Which leads me to criticism of Angry Boys as a comedy. Looking at all of Lilley’s work, none of it is directly and entirely “laugh track” comedy. It’s dark. It’s rude. It’s painful. It’s funny. It’s sharp. It’s pointed. It’s a real reflection on our society and that’s what makes it work. None of any of Lilley’s series have been laugh a minute… and THAT’S why they work. The humour makes you uncomfortable because it’s real and reflects real people. People you know. Maybe even yourself.
The moment for both Daniel and Nathan at the tree that has become the memorial for their late father was Lilley pathos at his very best. Moving, sensitive, hearfelt and a tree being urinated on. Two teens who miss their Dad so dramatically yet cannot emotionally express themselves in any real way… Daniel’s recognition that he still had some growing up to do and had to let go of childhood dreams was very sharp and very strong.
This is the reality of Angry Boys, and why the wrapping of each character’s story was so important. Blake Oakfield got his balls & his mojo back. Shwayne Jr/S.Mouse! got his new single played on radio (and seemingly, people liked it). Tim Okazaki moved his family back to America and took control of his life again. And Gran posted the legends their invites to the party and forgot about it, so Daniel got the farewell for Nathan he had planned (and explains why Penny couldn’t find the invites in Gran’s e-mail). It was a delightful resolution to the series to see the three legends appear at the gate to the family farm.Angry Boys may have been a couple of episodes too long. The journey, however, has been very significant to the season finale payoff (a Lilley specialty). To see the flawed humanity of the characters, and recognise that they each pushed through their own troubles and in their own way triumphed was what made seeing them at the gate so special. Seeing the face of Nathan as he recognised who these people were… and Gran in recognising she didn’t let her boys down. Pure gold.
Chris Lilley can deliver another Angry Boys any time he likes. It may not have achieved the ratings success of previous series, but Angry Boys has revealed a creative comic who is willing to push boundaries with his characiture (subtle and otherwise) of Australian society.
Thank you Chris Lilley – Angry Boys was completely worth the journey.