Comedic Chameleon

It debuted to a landslide of love, both across Twitter and traditional media. I think the technical term is “assploded”. But in the resulting episodes, Angry Boys has left some disappointed and even turning off. Has the Chris Lilley-love-bubble burst?

It’s true that with Angry Boys Lilley is delivering some of his most edgy characters yet. It’s a return for Nathan and Daniel, the central characters and twins from Dunt, and they’ve not grown up much since we met them in We Can Be Heroes (“We sometimes do walking mainies…”). Their Gran, Ruth Sims, is a complete gem and many of the complaints have been that since episodes 1 and 2 we’ve not seen enough of Gran. I agree. African American rich-boy-cum-rapper S.Mouse! has been labelled an inclusion due to pressure from US co-funders HBO, and certainly the audience response hasn’t been as overwhelming as the love for Gran.

Jen Okazaki – the skateboarding manager and overbearing stage mum of Tim Okazaki (Skateboarding GayStyle) – is another standout that shows Lilley’s unique ability to write well-developed, strong female characters. For me, it’s his drop out surfing legend Blake Oldfield that is the hardest to accept. Blake just feels wrong… maybe because it was I went to school with about 15 Blake Oldfields who all took turns to bully or beat me up during High School at one time or another. I could have consulted on this character and made him a little more three dimensional. A little less obvious parody.

Skateboarding: Her Style

I think Angry Boys is one of the smartest comedies to hit our screens in a long time. It’s the highest-brow low-brow group of performances we’ve seen in ages, and it’s not pandering to the masses. No laugh track. No obvious gags. The characters are authentic (S.Mouse! is meant to be unlikeable because he is – and his Dad’s reaction to the ongoing self-published album is brilliant). The show flips from the desolation of the South Australian outback to the chaos of Tokyo to LA to the NSW coast effortlessly, and the pay off will be how these independent stories tie together as Nathan and Daniel seek to bring their heroes together for Nathan’s farewell.

Angry Boys is a show to stick with, and to process. Not all the humour will hit you in the face to laugh at immediately. Some of it grows and eats at you until you get it (you just may not like the taste of it when you do). Like the opening titles. I only just understood that the variety of young boys is actually the central male characters in various situations growing up. What helped make them angry.

I think it’s bloody funny.


Angry Boys – Wed 9pm, ABC1.
Repeats on ABC2 and also available on iVeiw
Image source – ABC