Oct 5, 2014

[TV] Please Like Me: Season 1

I found about this show on a porn forum.

I thought I'd just come right out with that fact. And it's totally true - I first heard about this on a forum primarily designed to support peer-to-peer porn sharing. But in truth I find a lot of porn boring these days, and so I end up focused more on the other sections dedicated to more general entertainment. And then I end up with this.

Please Like Me hails from Australia, which is not exactly a country that I know a heck of a lot about from an entertainment perspective. If you were to ask me how many Australian TV shows or movies I've seen in my life, I think the only ready answer I have is the fact that I've seen Bootmen and of course The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. So that's not much to go on.

So I don't know how I could have learned of this show apart from it getting adapted into a US series or some silly thing like that. And thus I'm glad that my porn forum peers made sure to share this show with the group - it's an absolute delight. And I'm sure that Josh would approve of the slightly funny story of how I got into the show.


Synopsis: Please Like Me is an Australian comedy drama series created by lead actor Josh Thomas. Josh was the youngest winner of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's Raw Comedy Competition back in 2005. This show now also airs in the US on the Pivot network.

The show starts with Josh (Josh Thomas), a 21 year old student, getting dumped by his girlfriend Claire (Caitlin Stasey). Her main reason for breaking up with him is her belief that Josh is in fact gay - something that Josh quickly denied. But things quickly get weird when his roommate and best friend Tom (Thomas Ward) happens to have his gay co-worker Geoffrey (Wade Briggs). Geoffrey immediately feels an attraction to Josh and asks to stay over and they don't quite have a sexual moment - but I suppose you could say that it could have been something like that had Josh been more open or thereabouts.

But then we come to the major twists of Josh's mother Rose (Debra Lawrence) of having attempted suicide. Thus Josh has to bring in his father Alan (David Roberts) despite the fact that he is already divorced and seeing a Thai woman named Mae (Renee Lim). Thankfully Rose will survive the attempt but now comes the bigger question of how to care for her. If they don't opt to put her in a professional care facility, then they'll need to ensure someone is present to help her avoid any further incidents. And thus Josh decides that the best thing to do is for him to move back in with his mother.

Please Like Me is a rather brilliant and intelligent comedy that won't necessarily work with a general audience, I have to admit. It's not the kind of show that uses a lot of sight gags or physical comedy. It has the occasional zinger or two, but I think that the comedy lies more in the subtle interaction of different lines of dialog more than just the punchline finish. And the comedy as a whole is really just a medium for telling more serious stories and addressing key topics and issues in a manner that doesn't necessarily feel too heavy (although in truth there are some serious heavy implications that need to be considered!)

Josh, both the actor and the character, are rather endearing in an awkward kind of way. And it's not about a character designed to be awkward - it's just the sort of awkwardness that comes from someone coming across as so genuine to the point of being vulnerable. And thus we see him as just another guy - someone we know from our own circle of friends. Or maybe we relate to him on a more personal level.

And the show as a whole wonderfully captures this same endearing quality. Every episode begins with a unique version of the opening where you see a few of the characters preparing food and/or dancing to the same song. And I looked it up - the song is "I'll Be Fine" as performed by Clairy Browne & The Banging Rackettes. And it's a wonderful little song that sets the stage for every single episode, but at the same time the fact that it's a unique opening every time makes it something to look forward to. And how often have you found yourself enjoying the title sequence of a show on a regular basis?

But beyond the comedy, the show is pretty serious. I keep referring to this and I'm sure this may seem a little confusing for anyone who hasn't seen the show. But seriously, it's a major part of the show and it certainly characterizes it in a unique manner. And despite a gay protagonist, it's not like the show is limited to LGBT issues alone. Like any other gay man, Josh's life is full of different problems with only some of them being directly related to his sexuality. Thus it's a pretty rounded out experience and one that still manages to elicit smiles and laughs even when facing death, mental illness or all those other things.

Please Like Me is a great show and a fresh comedy that is doing something different. You owe it to yourself to watch this show and find a part of yourself in Josh. Thus this first series gets a solid 4 moments of Geoffrey professing his love for Josh out of a possible 5.


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