The Ja’mie King “Private Schoolgirl” saga has finally and fortunately come to an end. There is no doubting that Chris Lilley is probably one of Australia’s most talented comic writers and actors. But Ja’mie only has enough substance to be a single comedy sketch. After a very short time, this character’s antics begin to wear thin and watching becomes a source of fascinated horror rather than enjoyment. There is certainly material in this program that could be developed considerable effect.
There are a number of relationships that may have comic potential. For example, the relationship between Ja’mie and her mother Jhyll (what’s not to love in a name like that), but it is not developed. The triangle between Ja’mie’s mother, father and his “personal assistant” is not developed. As they stand in the current programme, these relationships are a sideways glance at the effects of the self-preoccupied narcissism of Ja’mie and her father. The real test for Lilley as a comic writer is whether he can make these characters genuinely funny. I think it’s a big ask.
In the long run, these elements of the programme really only hint at the darker side of characters like Ja’mie King. In most great comic characters, no matter how appalling, there is something endearing. Think Norman Gunston, Kath and Kim, John Clark in “That Games”. There is nothing endearing about Ja’mie King, she simply appalling, an accurate reflection of teenage life perhaps, but essentially extremely unlikeable.
Unfortunately, much the same criticisms can be levelled at Lilley’s creation Jonah Takalau and it looks like we’re going to get another dose of him on the ABC.
- ‘Unbearable’ Ja’mie panned by critics (smh.com.au)
- Ja’mie King: A Lesson In Not What To Do (anthobuzz.com)
- Review: “Ja’mie: Private School Girl” (ghostinthecoffeemachine.wordpress.com)
- Ja’mie: Private School Girl Makes Racism and Classism Funny (esquire.com)