Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

Review: Angry Boys

with 2 comments

Grade: D-

Every January, as a TV junkie I get excited for the first new series to air. That excitement is in part because I’m a list maker, and I look forward to placing the first entry into my new “Top TV Of (Year) List.” [1] But this year, instead of having to wait until the second week of January (which is normally when new shows start populating the airwaves), HBO decided to air its new Angry Boys – a co-production with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – on New Year’s Night. Awesome, right? First new show on the first day of the year – and an HBO show, no less? What could be better? I should have known that such a scenario was too good to be true.

Coming from the mind of Australian comedian Chris Lilley, the creator of Summer Heights High (another Australian series that aired on HBO back in 2008), Angry Boys shares a similar structure with Summer Heights High – Lilley portrays almost all of the central characters while the series takes a broader view of a singular topic. With Summer Heights High, Lilley examined high-school life whereas with Angry Boys Lilley takes a look at, well… it’s in the title of the series. With a subject matter ripe for ridicule, it should have been easy for Lilley to find bountiful material to lampoon. Instead, the half-hour that I saw included none of that. “Episode 1” featured Lilley’s portrayal of two separate yet related worlds: one where he plays teenaged-twins (Daniel and Nathan, if you feel like keeping track for some reason) who rattle off multiple variations on the word “fuck” and way too many uses of the word “faggot” over the course of a half an hour, and another where Lilley portrays a middle-aged woman named Gran, a guard at a detention center for teenage boys. But even Gran is vaguely – and sometimes overtly – vile [2], making almost every character that we spend any length of time with pretty detestable. And that’s it, really. That’s all there is to Angry Boys.

Granted, I was never really a fan of Summer Heights High so I may not have been the intended audience for this show, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could find something as puerile as this entertaining in any way. Even as Lilley’s aim (presumably) is to take the piss out of needlessly angry youths, it could have been done in a much more intelligent manner than this and “intelligent” isn’t really a word that could remotely be used to describe Angry Boys. When we meet Nathan and Daniel, we learn that they’re identical twins and that according to Daniel, Nathan is “deaf and a little retarded” after losing his hearing in a fireworks accident. Nathan’s response to this and pretty much everything? An upward middle finger. Directed towards Daniel, towards his mother, towards his mother’s boyfriend [3], towards even the camera on several occasions, this seems to be Daniel’s shtick. And it’s tired. In the roughly fifteen minutes that the show spent with these two characters, I can’t see any reason why anyone would want to subject themselves to any more of them. If the Gran character were painted any better, it might have mitigated the damage done by Daniel and Nathan but if she’s more tolerable it’s only by the slimmest of margins. While it’s true that she generates one of the only genuine laughs of the episode [4], too much of the character’s material falls either into the dumb (Gran plays a Magic 8 Ball by letting the detentionees spin her around in order to gain an answer from her) or ill-advised (doing a karaoke version of the late Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” at a Friday Night Song Night) categories of comedy.

Ultimately, it seems that Angry Boys may be heading towards Daniel and Nathan ending up at Gran’s detention center [5] but, honestly, I’ll never know because this really isn’t anything that I have a desire to watch again. I should have known better than to fall for the New Year’s Night gambit particularly when, looking ahead, HBO is double-pumping all eight episodes over the next four Sunday nights. That reeks of burning off a series, as does the lack of any advance press for Angry Boys. It’s analogous to what HBO is doing with the third season of their little-watched animated series The Life And Times Of Tim, leaving that show alone on an island on Friday nights. Watching the commercial that preceded the Angry Boys premiere was striking. It was HBO’s presentation of all of the series they plan to air in 2012 – Luck, Eastbound And Down, Treme, Boardwalk Empire, and Game Of Thrones among them. I suppose I’ll just wait until then to check back in on HBO. In the meantime, if I want to watch a show centered around angry, stupid boys I’ll just catch up on Beavis And Butt-head on the TiVo. It’ll be time much better spent.

[1] Yeah… I have problems.
[2] She sorts the boys at the detention center into teams for a soccer game by their skin color while yelling, “Go on, kick it faggot,” at one of them. Classy.
[3] Who Daniel describes as a “fuckin’ dickhead” despite not only the lack any evidence to support such a claim, but even as the man goes out of his way to be nice to them. I suppose this is supposed to be ironic. Oh… and Daniel also cleverly refers to the boyfriend’s dog, Marcus, as “Fuck-us.” Such a witty guy, that Daniel.
[4] Deriding one of the youths in her charge during a soccer game by saying, “Did your mom’s heroin habit during pregnancy affect your coordination?”
[5] Although the characters do seem to be related, so maybe that’s the connection. I won’t be sticking around to find out, though.

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Written by jeremylikestv

January 10, 2012 at 8:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. I fell asleep watching this show.

    Rob Spicer

    January 10, 2012 at 11:15 am

    • I don’t blame you on that. It was the longest 30 minutes ever. I think I checked the clock three or four times hoping that it was soon over.

      jeremylikestv

      January 10, 2012 at 11:47 am


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