TL;DR – This is a show that wildly oscillates from being deeply offensive to just plain dull
Score – 1 out of 5 stars
Before we get into this review, let me take you back 14 years ago to 2005, this was when We Can Be Heroes first aired down here in Australia. It was a revolutionary comedy for many, as it satirised people that you thought you all knew. Also having one actor play multiple different parts was a novel concept … at the time. Chris Lilley won multiple awards for the show and it put him in the limelight which he followed up with the equally successful Summer Heights High two years later. Why am I opening with this, well I wanted to give it a bit of history for non-Australian readers, and I wanted to give a bit of context before we fall into the rubbish that is this series.
So to set the scene, Lunatics is based around the lives of several characters (all played by Lilley). There is Jana a lesbian pet psychic based in South Africa, Gavin a brat that somehow going to be an Earl, Joyce a former adult movie star, Keith a long time retail worker that is opening his own store, Becky a tall twin starting her first day at an American college, and Quentin a real-estate agent from the Gold Coast. The series explores their lives as they all move into their next stages of life. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Before we move on, I do feel it is important to
state that I have only watched the first three episodes. When writing reviews I
think it is important not to judge a work until you can see it in its full
light. However, here, I have a pretty safe bet that I got everything I needed
to know from those first three episodes. As well as this, it was frankly a
struggle just to get through those episodes and while there is a chance that as
the series continues they could reframe their approaches to the characters and
show them in a new light, I do not have the fortitude to wade through any more
episodes to find out.
The first real damning aspect of this series is frankly the offensive way it has chosen to make its targets. In the first episode, we see that it is people with physical impairments, mental health issues, and those with sexual issues that are the target of most of the ‘humour’ in the show. You know there was a time (and frankly not that long ago) where that would have been just fine, indeed it was not all that long ago that Lilley was doing full on blackface in his shows, but the time for that had changed when the show was greenlit and was sure as hell changed before it was released. I’m sure the intention is to laugh at the former adult star who now is eccentric and hordes teddy bears, but it is actually deeply sad, not helped by some tacky Photoshops placing Lilley’s head onto explicit pornographic video covers. This is a show that hit all sorts of deeply problematic stereotypes and then makes fun of important issues. Like having a character who is presented as a clearly fraudulent psychic who goes on a big rant about how her dog told her that it is gender fluid and how they are saving up for a gender reassignment surgery. At best these kind of jokes are tacky, but at worst they come off as cruel and in fact deeply offensive.
To add to all this, when the show is not being
cruel or offensive it is just tired and dull. This show is all about a shtick
that Lilley has been doing for 14 years, and in those 14 years I have seen no
evolution, no improvement, no refinement, it just gets more and more over the
top because that the only place it has to go. These are the same style of jokes
that were being made all those years ago, just now he can swear and be
generally offensive. So when we look at one character that is a more straight
forward send-up, Quentin the real estate agent, it just feels tired. Sure I
think we have all met a Quentin in our lives, someone that thinks they are the
bomb when they are nothing. But like what’s the point, there is nothing new,
and watching a white guy be a douche white guy is something that is everywhere
these days. ‘Hahaha remember when that footballer got drunk and took that photo
of himself in a compromising position, that was fun wasn’t it, let’s send it up
here’, goodness. Also having a character do the same thing when he was younger
and have no one buy into it now everyone has grown up, well it was like the
show was so close to getting it. There was a time when this was a revolutionary
form of comedy, but that time slipped away a long time ago.
In the end, do we recommend Lunatics? No, very much no. This is a series that can’t make up its mind if it wants to be dull or offensive, and that is a bad place to be in. Could it get better as the season went on, I don’t know maybe, but it drops the ball some completely and utterly in the first three episodes that I don’t have the energy to find out if it does and I don’t know why anyone else would. As I turned off that final episode my only thought was ‘why would someone greenlight this’, and then when seeing the final product go ‘yep, lets release this’. Give this one a miss folks.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
Have you seen Lunatics yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Lunatics
Directed by – Chris Lilley
Written by – Chris Lilley
Created by – Chris Lilley
Production/Distribution Companies – Screen Queensland, Fulcrum Media Finance & Netflix
Starring – Chris Lilley with Anne McCaffery-French, Philip Keogan, Emma Wilson, Ariana Doolan, Amanda Murphy, Millie Morice, Cassie Wang, Dylan Gavasse, Jean Watson, Joe Murray, Leena Arora, Chloe Stout, Alyssa Macintosh, Tracey McGown, Darren McGown, Bianca Daniels, Michelle Smit, Brock Thornburgh, Jett Thornburgh, Steve Minton, Kim Kemp, Judi Young & Antony Turrisi