Angry Boys Episode Four Review: An Improvement, But Where To From Here?
I was reluctant to review another episode of Angry Boys.
First of all because it meant that I would have to sit through another episode, and I’m sorry, but so far the series hasn’t really done anything for me.
Secondly, from what I had seen in the “next week on Angry Boys” preview, it seemed like things weren’t going to get much better; we were told that Nathan likes to look at his mum in the shower (enjoy, families watching!) and the fact that he likes to “wank” a lot… and presumably there was some delightful link to be found there.
And thirdly, I don’t really enjoy spraying my particular form of invective out into the blogosphere (if that’s still a thing), as “hating on” any show is not fun, especially when it’s Australian. Not that Australian shows should be judged less harshly, but when Angry Boys has been the only scripted comedy on screens in 2011, we shouldn’t be too quick to shoot it down, and maybe hope for something that’s a bit, well, funnier.
But I went into this week’s instalment with the same positive mindset as there was yet another character being introduced; that of Japanese mother Jen Okazaki. She is basically a fusion of the stereotype of Asian parents combined with the showbiz-parent character.
Now, the more cynical might say that we’ve seen it all before with Ricky Wong in We Can Be Heroes (his parents wanted him to work at the CSIRO, but he wanted to be a performer).
But I gave him Lilley the benefit of the doubt in that we are presented with the pushy parent’s perspective.
And this time, the parent is pushing her son into being a gay skateboarder.
Oh, did I mention the GAY part? Because the rest of the background information doesn’t really matter as long as you know that.
And the character itself is probably fairly original in the context of the series. She’s a strong female character, with an intimidating presence similar to Gran. But while Gran takes out her anger in a brash, physical way, Jen uses a searing form of quiet discipline.
It has been said that Lilley’s female characters are more impressive than his male ones, and it’s hard to disagree, especially after tonight’s episode.
And while the character of the mother is typically cold, there is a bit of fun to be had.
The show opened to the Sims boys and Nathan’s porn obsession, as well as discussion of Nathan’s deaf-school party, including one of the guests…
Cut to Tim Okazaki, whose backstory we learn in the form of photos and home video footage.
We also see the dramatic extent to which his has mother prodded, or bullied him into becoming a star.
“Other boys your age much better than you”
“If he did not succeed at skateboarding, I would kill myself.”
These play heavily for cringe-filled laughs, and it does work, thanks to Lilley’s steely portrayal of Jen.
But of course it doesn’t stop there; she doesn’t only make him become a good skateboarder, she also makes him the “first gay skateboarder”… even though he’s not gay.
Then we’re shown the range of “Gaystyle Enterprises” merchandise; there’s cock-shaped ice cube trays, cock-shaped grated cheese shakers, etc.
… And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this amusing, through its sheer ridiculousness. Yes, it’s crude, but there’s something so jarringly off-putting about the lengths this woman has gone to that you have to find at least some of it funny. And it is funny, at long last.
On the whole the character is fine. Her bizzare cruelty in the form of making him “gay” isn’t exactly the height of comedy, but it is an inspired idea (“Skateboarding Gaystyle!” maybe even edges out “Gran’s Gotchas”).
And there are discernable jokes in this over-the-top, crazed, concocted world of Jen Okazaki, unlike the one-note drawl of Blake or the utter irrelevance of s.Mouse.
There are laughs to be had, though they are almost lost in the mass of “cock” jokes.
Lilley is so intent on centring everything on phallic objects and dirty jokes that it may appear too superficial to some.
And this was confirmed when the Daniel and Nathan Sims storyline returned to the fact that Nathan has an apparently critical wanking problem. But the story was wrapped up by Daniel taping milk cartons to his hands.
Yet there is something there. It might not be the funniest thing he’s ever done, but it was definitely an improvement on Blake (who got a short storyline which isn’t really worth mentioning, which makes one wonder the exact point to his character aside from the whole small-town gang element).
Unfortunately, we may be treated to more homosexuality-based jokes, at the expense of any focus on the actual characters, which seems to have been the real downfall to this series thus far.
So, some good, some bad – I know which one I’d rather have more of.
All of the characters have now been exposed to us. There are eight episodes to go. But it’s hard to tell where it will go from here. Some of the characters seem to have hit a wall already (s.Mouse, Blake) with inconsequential storylines and their unpopularity with Lilley fans. Surely there isn’t that much more to explore in their lives and their relationships, and even if there is, does anyone really care that much?
However, with the strong characters of Jen, Gran (surely the two of them meeting/facing-off would bring the house down?) and to some extent the Sims brothers, there is a chance the series could bring some more laughs in episodes to come.
Or at least I hope so…