Livin’ the low life

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

HOUSOS was be­ing crit­i­cised for be­ing dis­re­spect­ful to some of Aus­tralia’s most dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple long be­fore it went to air.

But Paul Fenech, the cre­ator and star of the SBS ONE TV show, said he ex­pected peo­ple in pub­lic hous­ing com­mu­ni­ties would see the funny side and em­brace it.

‘‘ Peo­ple in those ar­eas are my big­gest fans. Why would I look down at them like that?’’ he said.

‘‘ Housos isn’t about mak­ing fun of hous­ing com­mis­sions, it’s a com­edy about a group of very poor, very marginalised peo­ple.

‘‘ The hous­ing com­mis­sion is just the set­ting.’’

Set in the fic­tional pub­lic hous­ing es­tate of Sun­ny­vale, Housos fol­lows the lives of a bunch of dodgy, foul-mouthed res­i­dents who spend time scam­ming Cen­tre­link, steal­ing cars, fight­ing cops and ne­glect­ing their chil­dren.

‘‘ I’m not say­ing ev­ery­one who lives in pub­lic hous­ing is like this, be­cause it’s just not true,’’ he said.

‘‘ But let’s face it, we’ve all come across some­one like Shazza scream­ing at her kids in Macca’s or push­ing the baby in a shop­ping trol­ley.

‘‘ As crazy as these char­ac­ters are, tell me you haven’t seen some­one like them in the real world.’’

The cre­ator of cult come­dies Pizza and Swift & Shift Couri­ers wears the anti-po­lit­i­cal-cor­rect­ness la­bel with pride, say­ing it was time we learned to laugh at our­selves again.

‘‘ Some peo­ple just love be­ing offended by things and they write let­ters about it and they com­plain about it. I just don’t get it, I re­ally don’t,’’ he said.

‘‘ There’s plenty of stuff on TV that I don’t like but I don’t sit all the way through Sex and the City just so I can phone the net­work and com­plain about the women’s skirts be­ing too short and how foul the lan­guage is – I just don’t bloody watch it.’’

Fenech said many of Housos’ cast mem­bers, him­self in­cluded, came from ar­eas much like Sun­ny­vale and en­joyed mak­ing fun of aspects of their own lives and up­bring­ing.

‘‘ The places where we filmed, the res­i­dents loved it. We even be­came friends with peo­ple in some of the houses,’’ he said.

‘‘ One of the guys who was in the show told us this story about a wo­man in his street, a junkie who tried to sell her kid to this bloke who gave her a dodgy cheque.

‘‘ So she re­ported it to the po­lice and was pissed off when they ar­rested her for try­ing to sell her baby.

‘‘ That’s the real stuff that hap­pens out there in the world, but peo­ple are up­set about a com­edy show?’’

Fenech said even the eth­ni­cally driven humour of Pizza was em­braced by the groups it sent up.

‘‘ Ninety-nine per cent of the feed­back we got for Pizza was from peo­ple in those eth­nic groups who were happy to be rep­re­sented on TV for a change,’’ he said. ‘‘ If you’re 15-years-old and don’t look like a Home and Away char­ac­ter, it’s par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to have some­thing on Aus­tralian TV that shows your face and the sound of your voice.’’ Housos pre­miere, SBS ONE, Mon­day Oc­to­ber 24, 10pm

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