News & Commentary, Screen, TV

Five Australian sitcoms that should already exist

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Channel Nine this week announced it is producing its first local sitcom in 15 yearsHere Come The Habibs! which will be the first home-grown situation comedy to appear on any commercial network in several years. Australia’s diverse communities are spilling over with excellent fodder for sitcoms, but they’ve been largely neglected by commercial networks due to cost factors.
Here are our five ideas for comedies which should be immediately commissioned and developed by a commercial network. They all contain the most basic requirement for any sitcom: contained conflict.
And please note: we’re really not sold on any of our suggested titles. We haven’t had the luxury of a brain-storming boardroom (and isn’t that how most TV is created in 2015?) so if you’ve got a better suggestion for a title, or even just a better suggestion for a sitcom, please let us know in the comments below.

Pub Gig

If That 70s Show proved anything, it’s that you can do a long-running, fresh period sitcom. And if the ’70s were a time of social revolution and fabulous fashions in the US, then the late ’70s and early ’80s in Australia are even more perfect for TV.
Pub Gig would follow a not-so-successful INXS/Divinyls/Cold Chisel-esque band as they make their way around their various lowly paid (and often poorly attended) performances. There’s plenty of conflict amongst the band and with their hangers-on as they struggle to “make it” (and end up going nowhere fast). And, to make a living, the band ends up reluctantly playing covers of many of their contemporaries’ hits which gives the series a uniquely musical edge.
Beth – one of the band’s two lead singers. Beth is secretly a massive music nerd but works hard to pull off the ‘devil may care’ front woman attitude.
Tony – the bass player, who is in control of the artistic and business direction of the band. It’s his job to corral the troops into action and he’s secretly in love with Beth.
Aaron – the wild, cocky and egotistical second lead singer (and guitar player) who does all he can to derail Beth’s moments in the spotlights. The difficult one.
Chrissie – the ultimate rock chick drummer — bawdy, with a wicked sense of humour (constantly mocking Aaron’s posing) but with strongly defined progressive political values.

Escape From The Shire

Channel Ten’s reality series The Shire will go down as one of the most cringeworthy (but strangely enjoyable) TV series of the last decade. Ten were onto something: the insular nature of one of Sydney’s Southern Coastal region is perfect fodder for drama, but the mistake they made was in playing into that insular nature. A sitcom set in the Shire would be all about the conflict between the residents of the Shire and broader Sydney.
Escape from the Shire is essentially a show about families and a woman stuck between two worlds, written and shot in the glossy late ’90s sitcom style, complete with canned laughter.
Larissa – a young lesbian medical student who has a love-hate relationship with the very white-bread Shire community she grew up in. She can’t quite afford to move out of her parents’ house and is still, in many ways, a Shire girl. It’s an atypical fish-out-of-water story — Larissa has plenty of friends and fits in quite well in the Shire, although she’s largely outgrown that particular community. There are plenty of conflicts when she brings back her inner city uni friends and girlfriends to meet her Shire family and friends.

The Top End

Australia should have a comedy set in the Northern Territory which covers both the realities of living in a small city like Darwin and life in remote regions. If Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures proved anything, it’s that the slapstick possibilities of the bush and Australian deserts are endless.
And Australia also desperately needs more indigenous humour on our screens. The sketch show Black Comedy is an excellent start and a beloved ABC property, but there’s way more ground to cover here.
The Top End would focus on one indigenous family, which runs a bustling wilderness tours business out of Darwin, and the intergenerational conflicts within it.
Angie – the matriarch who refuses to take anything too seriously. Imagine if Carol Brady never existed and Alice was in fact mother Brady.
Zac – the father, constantly struggling to keep his wife’s flights of fancy — and moments of brilliant inspiration — in check.
Brendan – their son who works as a public servant and often tries to hide his Aboriginality.
Karen – Brendan’s new Caucasian girlfriend who has just moved up from Melbourne. They met through work and she seems to be a little too enthusiastic to fit in with Brendan’s family and embrace Aboriginal culture.

Out in Sydney

How has Australia never had its very own big, cheap gay sitcom? We’ve had the underrated Outland and Please Like Me, but where’s the Australian version of Will and Grace for 2015?
It would have to be set in Sydney, one of the world’s great gay cities, and it would have to reflect the diversity of queer communities more successfully than Will and Grace did.
Pete – A gay man who has just turned 40. While desperately fighting against the ageing process and realising he’s lost much of his sexual currency, he loses his steady job as an insurance broker and turns to Marge for help in getting his life back on track.
Marge – Pete’s best friend who finds much of her energy taken up with caring about Pete’s troubles. Single and with a sense of humour sharp enough to cut diamonds. Imagine if Karen Walker were a lesbian and brought just a few metres closer to earth.
Adrian – Marge’s 18-year-old son. He’s a party animal who has relationships with both men and women and rejects any label on his sexuality.
Allison – Adrian’s best friend who ends up falling for Marge.

Bad News

This idea for a news satire is maybe a little too close to another legendary Australian comedy series which already exists … But a newsroom is the perfect backdrop for human drama and comedy. Set in a contemporary TV news studio, each episode of Bad News would take place over the course of one day, starting with a news conference and leading right up to a 6pm bulletin.
Tom – the pretty boy news anchor whose skills are basically limited to reading an autocue. But unlike Mike Moore he has no illusions about his journalistic abilities. He’s only in it for the glory.
Bernadette – Tom’s mother and the cutthroat network general manager. She’s well aware that her son hasn’t inherited an ounce of her intelligence or judgement, but she remains his biggest champion.
Harvey – the neglected young producer hopelessly in love with Michaela.
Michaela – the network’s favourite reporter — a beautiful but naive young woman who relies very heavily on Harvey’s production skills to pull her stories together.

3 responses to “Five Australian sitcoms that should already exist

  1. Are you serious? Apart from the token NT spot, does everything always have to happen in Sydney? (and I’m not rooting for Melbourne either!)

  2. Nice to see someone batting for sitcoms built around indigenous humour, gay humour, and other well-entrenched parts of Australian life that are ignored on our small screens.
    When these ideas get up, I do hope the casting agents have the good sense to cast a hot young Indian woman as Beth, an older Lebanese man as Pete, a Vietnamese pretty boy as Tom and his tiger mother Bernadette – or some variation thereof. Maybe they could even be called Rashmi, Amal, and Tom and Binh.
    Because this is the largest story no Australian sitcoms are telling: who we are, and what we look like, in Australia today, in all our diversity. If we can see it in out shopping centres, we should see it on our TVs.

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