‘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.‘
The controversy that has been brewing about this week’s episode of At Home With Julia gave me some hope that the show would lift itself out of the hole it’s been digging and deliver some of the outrageous comedy that you generally only see on the ABC. Unfortunately, the supposedly offensive scene was merely a throwaway gag in the middle of an episode that while better than Code Ranga, was completely mediocre.
One improvement over last week is with the political one-liners that have until now stuck out like a sore thumb. In The Leaker these jokes fly thick and fast, using the old comedy technique of throwing out as many jokes as possible and seeing which ones stick. The frequency of these jokes makes them much less painfully obvious, and allows the show to flow more smoothly.
Unfortunately, while the writers have fixed one problem, the core of the show is still very tired and predictable. The setup in this episode is one that audiences have seen repeatedly in various sitcoms, and rather than using the political angle to turn the scenario on its head, the show just follows the idea through to the predictable end without any surprises along the way. I originally thought that basing the show within the sitcom format was a good way to give the show structure and give the writers the freedom to focus on the political comedy, but instead they seem to be relying on it to support the whole show. There is nothing new or original about At Home With Julia, apart from the controversy the show runners have been trying to generate about using politicians as the main characters.
And the main characters are one of the big issues. Although I still feel that the show has avoided being nasty, I have to wonder if there is a far more subtle type of insult that the show is guilty of. Every episode of At Home With Julia has focused around the relationship between Tim and Julia, and how obviously unhappy Tim is living with such a powerful woman. Now I obviously don’t know Tim Mathieson personally and can’t speak to how he feels about the situation, but the show continually seems to imply it is inevitable that a man would feel completely emasculated being the partner of a powerful woman he wasn’t married to, and that marriage would be all that was on his mind. Julia’s character wants to make Tim happy, but because she is focused on work her best is never good enough. The topic is one that warrants a long discussion, but I can’t help but wonder if we’d ever see this sort of show about a male Prime Minister.
Overall, At Home With Julia has improved from last week (not a difficult accomplishment), but I don’t really see it going anywhere. The stories are stale, and there is nothing new or clever about it. At Home With Julia is not a terrible show, it’s just a very forgettable one. Which might be worse. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised by the last episode, but I doubt it.
What I Liked – The one-liners were much better in this episode.
What I Didn’t Like – Completely predictable. Subtle sexism. Mediocre.
Rating – 3 out of 5 (Average)