‘It’s like any relationship. Who walks the dog? Who puts the bins out? Who sends the troops to Afghanistan? These are just some of the questions facing PM Julia Gillard and boyfriend Tim Mathieson.‘
There has been a lot of talk surrounding ABC’s new political comedy; some have questioned whether a politician’s personal life is off-limits, while others have felt that everything is fair game. The real question was how nasty the comedy was going to be, Julia Gillard is far from the most popular prime minister and many people would use an opportunity like this to get on their soapbox about every political decision they disagreed with.
Happily, At Home With Julia avoids stepping into this trap and crafts a show that isn’t the funniest thing around, but was good for some genuine laughs. Many of the jokes are really obvious, such as Julia drinking out of a Kevin ’07 mug but finding it too bitter – but most of the obvious stuff is just there as window dressing. There was some genuinely clever humour in the show, but unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of it.
The writers have chosen to couch the story in a traditional sitcom format, which takes a lot of the sting out of how predictable the show is. They use the formula well, playing off clichés like the unexpected dinner guests to push the political humour. We also spend a lot of time following Tim around and seeing how frustrating his life is as the little known partner of a powerful woman. He’s a character that the audience can sympathise with, and it gives everyone a break from Parliament House and The Lodge when needed.
The performances here are generally pretty good, although I did find Amanda Bishop’s Gillard impersonation a bit off-putting at times. Gillard is a bit of a dope here, but the parody never goes too far, poking fun without being nasty. The actors playing the three independents do a great job in the show, really capturing a lot of the mannerisms of the real trio and playing them up for laughs.
Overall, At Home With Julia avoids the trap of spending 30 minutes making jokes about the Prime Minister and instead tries to use the setting to poke fun at everyone in the political landscape with limited success. The show wasn’t as bad as the opening credits had me expecting, but it was nothing groundbreaking either. Hopefully the remaining episodes will move more into the subtle humour and away from the obvious gags.
What I Liked – Never felt nasty. Some funny jokes.
What I Didn’t Like – Obvious humour. Bishop’s performance can be a bit off-putting.
Rating – 3 out of 5 (Average)