Livin’ the low life
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