Chris Lilley's humour has largely remained the same over the years, so I guess it might fall on us, his fans, to expect something different from his new Netflix series 'Lunatics'. At the end of the day, we were left disappointed by a show that wasn't that outrageous and, simply, just not that funny.
Sure, there are some lines and small plot elements that are just the right level of offensive and elicit a chuckle, but nothing like the extremely quotable nature of his earlier releases of 'Summer Heights High', 'We Can Be Heroes' or 'Angry Boys'.
Back then, we all absolutely loved these shows. Was I just the right age to enjoy them because the humour was juvenile? No, because my parents loved them too. Was this latest show too hyped because we'd waited so long? Maybe.
But, all in all, 'Lunatics' was just too much. There are 6 characters in 10 episodes of a difficult-to-digest 40-minute length. Unlike his previous shows, it's not in one, relatable setting - the characters are all larger than life with incredibly extravagant backstories and traits. It's a lot to take in and I connect to none of it.
There’s Keith Dick, a fashion retailer in Canberra who has “objectophilia” and was in love for much of his marriage with his shop’s cash register. There’s Sydney estate agent Quentin who has an abnormally large ass (a family affliction); relentlessly foul-mouthed 12-year-old Adelaide resident Gavin Campbell, who is heir to an English earldom; ex-porn star and compulsive hoarder Joyce; 7ft tall college student Becky, and South African Jana Melhoopen-Jonks, pet psychic to the stars and “loud and proud lesbian woman”.
The characters are all caricatures, but as other reviews have pointed out, they are presented in a way that was maybe comical 20 years ago or if you’re 14 years old. At least this time there isn't any blackface to be seen, something that Lilley has come under fire for before.
But still, it's kind of just not that good. There are some funny lines but for the most part it's just not worth the time. I'm actually a huge Lilley fan - I met him at a signing after the release of 'Ja'mie' - but 'Lunatics' was pretty unengaging with absolutely no story in sight. The Guardian puts it well:
"A fat suit? Stilts? A fake butt? Lilley seems more desperate than ever. His approach has never felt as laboured, or as formulaic, or as devoid of ideas. The thoughtless faux documentary / faux reality TV structure of the show means nothing in Lunatics is remotely interesting on a visual level. The dialogue feels improvised in the worst possible way – with no wit, no flair, no pulse. As for the story: there is none, really, just a series of vaguely connected vignettes with no beginning, no end, and very little sense of progress."
Perhaps the days of Lilley writing, directing and starring in his own series' are behind him. We've seen his shtick before, and if anything, it's just gotten more juvenile than ever. There's plenty of great comedy on every platform, and you probably don't need to waste your time watching this.
Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️