Show: Summer Heights High
My Rating: 3 stars
I like watching quirky, little shows. And, I especially like foreign ones, because they usually have a very limited amount of episodes. I’m all for a show that only has two seasons of six episodes each. Some of these American shows with twenty-four episodes in a season can be a little daunting. But, this show was nice and approachable. It’s an Australian production set in a public high school. The tone is a comedy, but the humor is a little subtler than just telling outright jokes. It sets up absurd scenes and lets the story develop naturally from there. The story follows three different characters (all three played by Chris Lilley). Jonah is the troubled, breakdancing teen in the remedial academic program. Ja’mie is the pretty, popular, exchange student from a private school. And, Mr. G is the delusional, overambitious Arts Director. And, each one is thoroughly ridiculous in their own, special way.
The show takes the form of one those “slice of life” reality TV shows. So, the drama is pretty mundane. Although, you know how silly teenagers can be. Their everyday struggles seem like life-or-death ordeals. At the very least they’re certainly going to act as if they are. Ja’mie spends her time trying to take control of the cool girls’ clique. When she’s not doing that she’s usually stirring up controversy somewhere else in the school (probably for attention). She comes from a rich family, so she’s used to throwing money at any trouble she gets herself into. Mr. G is fighting with the administration to get funding for the Broadway-scale school play he’s writing and directing. He’s pretty sure he’s a dramatic genius. All he needs is the proper medium to show this to the world. And Jonah . . . well he’s just struggling to learn how to read. He’s generally a good boy, but he’s quick to anger, and is easily distracted. Unfortunately, the disruptive side is the only one the teachers seem to see. When he’s not in trouble, he’s usually planning some sweet break dancing numbers in the quad with his friends. It’s a pretty diverse group of characters, and makes for a pretty well-rounded high school dramedy.
I enjoyed the show, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. Some complaints that I’ve heard is that the pace is too slow and ordinary. Others (probably teachers) have complained that the characters are too annoyingly real. If you’re used to hearing whining excuses from students all day, you probably won’t see the charm in this show. Although these complaints are mitigated somewhat by the limited amount of episodes. I only found eight episodes available (in the US at least). So, you aren’t committing yourself to watching these kids for very long. But, you know whether you’d be charmed by this kind of odd, little show better than I would.