Ja’mie: Private School Girl – The Harsh Lesson of Episode Four

Ja’mie: Private School Girl, episode four, definitely taught Ja’mie a thing or two and, as such, it certainly didn’t disappoint me as a Chris Lilley fan with high hopes for the series. As I had anticipated, the audience finally saw Ja’mie vulnerable. Yes, she was still monstrous, but vulnerable nonetheless. However, Lilley also threw in something I didn’t see coming and, in doing so, this episode really exceeded my expectations.

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Image credit ABC1

It wasn’t a boarder who pushed Ja’mie over the edge, after all. It was, in fact, someone much closer to home – her BFF Madison, who hooked up with her boyfriend Mitchell behind her back and, when confronted about it, told Ja’mie she wasn’t even that quiche. Cue a physical cat fight and Ja’mie’s subsequent bout of depression. Briefly, she refused to return to school out of fear that she would be taunted for being fat and not having a boyfriend.

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Ja’mie: Private School Girl – What’s the Score so Far?

Three episodes in and, whenever I watch Ja’mie: Private School Girl, I can’t get the Marina and the Diamonds song ‘Primadonna’ out of my head, particularly the lyric, “The primadonna life, the rise and fall”. Not that I want the series to fail, mind you. Quite the opposite, in fact. In order for this show to succeed, I feel that Ja’mie has to, finally, experience a downfall. I keep anticipating it with every episode.

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Photo credit: ABC1

Chris Lilley needs to make us feel something different towards Ja’mie other than outrage or incredulity. He needs to either give her a hint of sympathy or a lot of comeuppance in order for the series to be worth it. One of the reasons that Summer Heights High worked so well was that, while it had the shock and humour factor provided by all three main characters – Ja’mie, Jonah and Mr G – Lilley gave Jonah and Mr G something deeper.

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No Offence, But… A Look at Chris Lilley’s Summer Heights High

This article has been modified after its original publication on GaydarRadio.com on 21 July 2008.

The announcement that Chris Lilley’s Ja’mie: Private School Girl is set to hit Aussie, UK and US TV screens in October has caused many to dust off their DVDs of his 2007 series Summer Heights High, which featured his popular character Ja’mie King, a wealthy, snobby Australian school girl who, for one term, transfers to the government funded Summer Heights High to see how the other half lives.

 

As we wait to see what Chris Lilley’s new series will expose about Australia’s privileged using his particular brand of dark, outrageous humour and who it will offend this time ‘round, it is worth revisiting Chris Lilley’s earlier satire. The series offers an insightful, albeit exaggerated, exploration of the human condition and life in the Australian government system, an environment in which people from varying social backgrounds are forced to interact with each other on a daily basis and, as such, is affected by very real issues including bullying, social cliques, racism and homophobia. Lilley is not afraid to point out that the issues of class, race and sexuality still very much matter today. The series also humanises, at the same time as it caricatures, those people who fall through the cracks of this environment – this is no mean feat, proving just how much of a genius Lilley is as both a character actor and a social commentator.

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The Boys of Beverly Hills 90210

I spend such a large amount of time reading too much into the fashion of Donna Martin and the inner politics of the Kelly, Brenda, Donna clique that I’m often guilty of neglecting the boys of Beverly Hills 90210, but they are just as multi-layered, have just as many intricate relationships with one another and are responsible for just as many fashion don’ts (come on down David Silver) as the girls. So here it is, my countdown of the most prominent males of Beverly Hills 90210.

Mel Silver
Okay, hear me out. In the faceless credits after the theme song, there was a name that always came up and no, I’m not talking about Joe E. Tata, who finally got to spin around and smile in the opening credits in season 6. I’m talking about the name Matthew Laurance. I always wondered who it was, because Joey from Blossom’s younger brother was never in an episode. One day, I IMDB’d it – yes, I am that sad – and discovered that Matthew Laurance played Mel Silver, David’s philanderer orthodontist dad. He makes this list because, after years of being just another name in the faceless opening credits, I feel he deserves a little recognition.

Best moment: He was the one responsible for giving Donna champagne at the prom. That means he played an integral part in pop culture history.

Who IS Matthew Laurance?
Who IS Matthew Laurance?
THIS is Matthew Laurance.
THIS is Matthew Laurance.

Matt Durning
Let’s face it, he was a poor man’s Brandon Walsh, conveniently brought in one or two episodes before Jason Priestley’s departure as Kelly’s new love interest. Matt Durning, attorney at law, even looked like Brandon, and his entry into the show also conveniently coincided with a lot of the main cast suddenly having legal problems with which they needed assistance. To this day, I don’t really get Matt – he was a defence lawyer, was secretly married to a schizophrenic woman he left behind at a New York mental hospital and cheated on Kelly while under the influence of LSD, yet he still managed to be boring. How is that even possible?

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Revisiting ‘Wedding Bell Blues’, the Season 2 Finale of Beverly Hills 90210

Fact: Brenda and Kelly were frenemies. Now, call me perverse, but some of my favourite episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 involved when they fell out with each other. Remember when Brenda caught Kelly and Dylan out on a date and Kelly defended herself when Brenda called her a bimbo? Brenda’s classic comeback was one of the best lines from the whole ten years of Beverly Hills 90210 put together: “Well Kelly, I was always taught that if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…” Oh-may-zing.

Well, this season two finale is also a bit of a doozy. Get set for when frenemies, father issues, two Aaron Spelling dramas, a bottle of alcohol and a wall collide. Da na na na, da na na na!

 

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A Melrose Place Cross-Over and a Mexican Stand-Off
The episode opens with Brenda and Dylan stuck on the wrong side of the Mexican border after Brenda forgets her license. She and Dylan have been in Baja and she’s lied about it to Jim and Cindy, telling them she was with Kelly all weekend. Brenda’s flipping out because border control have called Jim Walsh and he is mad. He yet again forbids Brenda from seeing Dylan (how many times has he done that already?) and Dylan acts like a bit of an indignant douche when he kisses Brenda and telling her he’ll see her at school… tomorrow. Methinks the issue spreads a little deeper than the trip to Mexico, but we’ll tug at that thread later!

Meanwhile, Kelly’s been busy having it off with Jake Hanson from Melrose Place, who’s been hired to construct a wedding canopy for the impending nuptials of Kelly’s knocked-up mum Jackie and David Silver’s father Mel. That’s right, folks, this episode is one of the cross-over episodes used to introduce us to Beverly Hills 90210’s sister show Melrose Place. Anyway, for a 17-year-old girl, Kelly is pretty confident with her sex banter, telling Jake it’s “looking good”… and she’s not talking about the canopy. I still can’t talk to men like that, and I’m 31. Has that what my life’s become? Envying the scripted flirting on an early ‘90s teen drama? Anyway, moving on…

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Jackie storms out to the backyard wearing what has to be the loudest, most conspicuous maternity dress I’ve ever seen. She rips Kelly a new one for lying to Cindy Walsh about Brenda’s whereabouts and Kelly’s embarrassed that she now looks like a kid in front of Jake. She has a go at Brenda the next day at school, but Brenda doesn’t seem to care too much about that, asking, “What does Jake have to do with this anyway?”, to which Kelly replies, “Brenda, I do have a life”. Remember that – it sows the seeds for a showdown between the long-standing frenemies later in the episode, so stay tuned…

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