Life at the Lodge
SATIRISING our political leaders is usually the stuff of sketch comedy.
But a new ABC1 series starting this week takes this form of political commentary one step further with a four-part comedy series dedicated to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Called At Home with Julia, the series is a send-up of life behind the scenes for Gillard and partner Tim Mathieson.
Four 30-minute episodes may seem like a short run but with this show’s merciless parody of an incumbent PM’s private life and the inclusion of a few other prominent faces as well, it may well be lucky to survive to the end of its brief season without demands from some sectors that it be axed.
ABC has not released any early previews of the series for review, instead relying on a twominute trailer to start tongues wagging. So whether the series has much to contribute, apart from simple silliness, is yet to be seen, but that wouldn’t necessarily be so bad.
After all, is there any better evidence of the true freedom of expression we enjoy in Australia than the existence of this kind of satire on free-to-air television?
Amanda Bishop stars as Julia, with an impersonation that is spookily good. Beyond simply copying the PM’s hair and wardrobe, Bishop perfectly mimics Gillard’s posture, walk, voice, speech patterns and even facial expressions. Playing Gillard’s hairdresser boyfriend, Tim, is Phil Lloyd ( both pictured), best known for Review with Myles Barlow.
In this series, Tim is the butt of a string of ‘‘ kept man’’ gags that play up the unusual gender/ power balance in their relationship: She is the nation’s leader with a busy life and public profile, while he is the lower-earner who’s pining to be married.
Buying meat for a ‘‘ special occasion’’, Tim is asked by the butcher if it is for a wedding anniversary. A visibly crestfallen Tim replies: ‘‘ No. . .’’
Storylines include Julia promising to make it up to Tim for always missing ‘‘ date night’’, a terrorism scare when Julia fails to turn up for one of Tim’s hairdressing events, Julia confronting Kevin Rudd ( Paul McCarthy) over his constant leaking, and even an appearance by the PM on ABC’s Q& A.
Will it be clever satire or cruel parody? Will it be insightful or disrespectful? Will it be received with good humour or be pilloried?
One thing is for sure: At least it looks funny.