For all the glorious American and British shows people talk about online, it can sometimes feel like Australia gets left behind. Apart from the first series of Underbelly, Australia may not be excellent at creating binge-worthy, fast paced dramas but when it comes to comedy, we are far from amateurs. Kath And Kim, Summer Heights High and Wilfred have been sold all around the world to critical acclaim. What about the other shows that don’t have quite the name and fly under the radar? Television in Australia is dominated by reality TV and soap operas that have a much louder Voice, that can Block out their more hilarious Neighbours. That’s why I’ve decided to compile a list of the best Home And Away, ah sorry let’s try that again. That’s why I’ve decided to compile a list of the best HOME GROWN sitcoms that aren’t exactly big hits.
One thing you will notice when you go through the list is that they are all ABC shows. Which, while not intentional was not exactly a shock. The commercial channels just don’t seem to care about comedy. They’d rather repeat The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family than put any money to producing original comedy. It’s quite a sad fact and even more reason to support the ABC. No matter who is in government, they always seem to go after the ABC because it’s easier than fixing the actual problems. It’s rather sad considering the ABC is responsible for some of the best of Australian TV, with The Weekly, Good Game, Glitch and many, many more.
Upper Middle Bogan
Upper Middle Bogan isn’t exactly unpopular and in fact trended on Twitter a few times(which was very confusing if you didn’t know what it was). The reason it didn’t find success overseas is down to the premise, a middle class woman finds out that she was adopted and her biological family is a bunch of bogans. Mention the word bogan to anyone outside of Australia and they would be quite confused. Which is a shame because it’s quite a good premise and essentially a classic clash of the classes.
The show boasts an impressive cast with Glenn Robbins, Robyn Nevin, Patrick Brammell, Michala Banas and the relatively unknown Robyn Nevin in the staring role. It’s not just the adults that are stars of the show though, Upper Middle Bogan is one of the few shows that can pride itself in it’s child stars. This ensemble cast along with the amazing writing makes Upper Middle Bogan one of the best Australian sitcoms around at the moment. As of now, a third series is yet to be announced but the first two series are available on DVD and iTunes.
Making it’s debut back in Christmas, 2012 as A Moody Christmas, the show went on to become The Moodys in it’s second series. The show revolves around a dysfunctional family and their various big events, whether it be Christmas, Australia Day or a court date. Another show with a classic theme, a theme that has been tried and tested for years, although the reason it stands out is down to the characters.
Patrick Brammell is among the cast of The Moodys as well and this is by far his funniest role. He plays the role of Sean Moody, an unsuccessful, self-made businessman who is quite proud to be the star of a shoddy repairman story on A Current Affair. Another cast member worth a mention is Darren Gilshenan, who plays Uncle Terry, a character so perfectly named he doesn’t need explaining. Again, like Upper Middle Bogan, no third series announced but it’s available on DVD and iTunes.
No, this is not the British Utopia concerning an oncoming, possible human cull, nor is it the terrible American reality show about fame hungry people trying to create their own perfect society. This is the Australian Utopia, a sitcom set in the government’s infrastructure department. Whether it’s true to life, I can’t tell, not having worked in government but as a member of the public it seems very likely that Utopia hits the nail on the head. Nothing gets done in the way of announcing more exciting projects or lunch-time and apart from a rare few, everyone is completely incompetent.
If you aren’t convinced, maybe I should mention that the show is produced by Working Dog, the production company behind Frontline, The Castle, Have You Been Paying Attention? and various other comedy gems. Rob Sitch from Working Dog heads up yet another impressive cast that includes Celia Pacquola, Luke McGregor, Kitty Flanagan, Dave Lawson, Toby Truslove and Lehmo. Series two is on it’s way some time this year and the first series is available on DVD and iTunes.
I may have ah, problems explaining Problems. The show treads a fine line between sketch show, sitcom and just plain weird. The sketches are scattered around or in the daily life of Sam, played by Sam Simmons, the shows creator. It’s hard to compare the show to anything else, except Sam Simmons’ stand up comedy although there is a hint of The Mighty Boosh with maybe a tinge of Flight Of The Conchords.
The cast contains a small selection of Australia’s top comedians, Lawrence Mooney, Claudia O’Doherty and Ronny Chieng while also pulling in the big names with Gary Sweet and Susie Porter. They all pull off either completely amazing performances or utterly terrible ones, it’s hard to tell since the show is so strange but since the show is so hilarious I’m going to say it’s the latter. Unfortunately, due to the beautifully bizarre nature of the show it never managed to find a strong audience and only four episodes were made. If you are interested they are available on iTunes but may a bit hard to find on DVD.
Welcher & Welcher
Shaun Micallef has been part of the Australian comedy scene for over twenty years now so it’s only expected that he would have been involved in a sitcom. Welcher & Welcher was that sitcom that aired back in 2003. The show revolved around the Welchers, a married couple that ran their own legal firm. Since Micallef himself was a lawyer before getting into comedy, he knows his way around a legal office.
Of the shows listed, this is probably the most farcical and wouldn’t seem out of place with a laugh track, although it doesn’t have one. Robyn Butler, Francis Greenslade, Santo Cilauro and Nina Liu star alongside Micallef and a few familiar faces appear in bit parts before they were more well known. Since the show hasn’t been around for a while it’s no surprise it’s not on iTunes, although the series was released on DVD in 2012.