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.
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.
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.