TL;DR – This is an absurd joyous mess, which I just mainlined all at once, and now have questions about life the universe, and what happened to that dishwasher?
Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun Review –
I am not sure I could put in words how excited I was when I heard that Aunty Donna was getting a Netflix series, well I mean it is my job so I will get it a good college try. Aunty Donna is a sketch comedy troop from Australia that swerves into the absurd while still being deeply Australian. My first introduction to them was when my brother asked the question is there ‘Always Room for Christmas Pud’ from then I learned what it was to be a ‘Chuffed Dad’, and how to do a ‘Roll Call’. Seeing that chaos on a Netflix series, well sign me up.
So to set the scene, Mark (Mark Samual Bonanno), Broden (Broden Kelly), and Zach (Zachary Ruane) all live in a house in Los Angeles. Everything is going well in their lives because they have discovered that Everything is Drum, that is until they found the one thing that was not a drum, but then thankfully it actually was a drum and Zach was just hitting it wrong. It is all fine and dandy until the Dishwasher (Kristen Schaal) decided that it should pay less rent because it washes all the dishes. Okay, time to find a new housemate, which is when the chaos starts. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
While broadly speaking Aunty Donna is a sketch comedy troop, if I could use one word to describe them, it would be absurd. Absurd as in they will spend a whole sketch lampooning the Ellen show that takes a hard right into gem smuggling and murder. None of it, like Elisha Cuthbert majestically riding an elephant, is seen as it is just narrated, all ending on a ridiculous punch line that I had to sit back in awe as to what they just pulled off. You also see it with them cutting into a joke just to make sure everyone knows that “Kevin Costner’s full of shit!”.
The first episode gives you a good sense of the type of humour that Aunty Donna will be employing as we get reinterpretations of some of their classic sketches. Including the looking for a new housemate that is just many different versions of themselves with cameos thrown in for good measure. Some of their sketches are rapid-fire shifting from one moment to the next at a breakneck speed, and some they just sit back and let unfold, like the whole scene when we find out that Ed Helms should be Egg Helms.
While set in Los Angeles, and clearly shaped for a broader audience, it is still rife with Australian references. In moments we whip from a reference to Four’n Twenty pies, then to Grant Denyer, and beyond. You will be sitting there, minding your own business, and they will just throw the Eagle Boys out there like they were no big thing. Eagles Boys, have they no care dropping the name of the seminal pizza takeaway place that when it had 10% of Australia’s market shares, it was bought out by competitor Pizza Hut as a way to outflank the Retail Food Group that already owned Dominos, Crust, and Pizza Cappers, adding to the Oligopolization of the retail food market … have they no shame.
This is also a show that is not afraid to play with its audience, like when they make it abundantly clear that episode two Treasure “is not canon”. While then making sure to keep the skeleton in the room and the bodies in the bin, thus confirming that it was in fact canon. There are also these moments when the three will play multiple different characters in the same scene, often it is just done with shot-reverse shot-shot, sometimes it is done with post-production inserts, and other times they just leave a manikin up in the scene. Like it is the Wild West here, and nothing matters. I mean we have Al Yankovic here as a vampire that gets physically attacked by the Sun, and that is not even in the Top 10 of the odd things that happen in this show.
Because it is such a free form show and it bounces from place to place on a dime, unfortunately not everything lands. For me personally, where that is most evident is in episode four which never quite came together. However, even in that episode, there were still things that made me laugh, which is a testament to the excellent writing.
In the end, do we recommend Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun? Yes, yes we do. I am not sure if it will be everyone’s cup of tea; however, I had a riot from start to finish. I am also just amused at the thought of a bunch of people in Europe and America pressing play with no idea what they are about to get themselves into.
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.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun
Directed by – Max Miller
Written by – Thomas Armstrong, Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly, Sam Lingham, Max Miller & Zachary Ruane
Created by – Comedy Bang! Bang! Productions, Pacific Electric Picture Company & Netflix
Production/Distribution Companies –
Starring – Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly & Zachary Ruane with Alyssa Limperis, Tipper Newton, Rekha Shankar, Karan Soni, Anthony Starr, Kristen Schaal, Randy Feltface, Scott Ackerman, Robert Broski, Sarah Burns, Ed Helms, Mary Sohn, Michelle Brasier, Danny Jolles, Jack Quaid, Kia Stevens, Zachary Webber, Nick Williams, Ronny Chieng, Ben Russell, Carl Tart, Jessica Knappett, Natalie Palamides, Al Yankovic, Martha Kelly, Tawny Newsome, Ify Nwadiwe, Brendan Scannell & Paul F. Tompkins
Episodes Covered – Housemates, Treasure, ‘Lympics, Dating, Night-Time & Dinner Party