News & Commentary In defence of Ja'mie and unpopular opinions By Ben Neutze | December 2, 2013 | When ABC last week announced their television line-up for 2014 with Chris Lilley’s upcoming series Jonah, somebody I follow on Twitter posted: “Great. Another Chris Lilley show everyone can pretend to enjoy.” That’s funny. I didn’t realise I was just pretending to enjoy Ja’mie: Private School Girl. Obviously, because my opinion on the show doesn’t line up with that person’s opinion, or the majority of critical opinion, I must be in some self-deluded state where I’m desperate to hold onto a performer and a character who once gave us so much, but is now just a pale, yet hideously overplayed caricature. Well, no. I’m not. I enjoyed Ja’mie: Private School Girl. I don’t think it’s absolutely genius, and it’s not Lilley’s best work, but it captures something about the pressures of high school and the evil that’s lurking in the ambitions underneath. It’s occasionally one-dimensional, and you probably have to be really into Lilley’s schtick and his subversive, no-holds-barred take on teenage girls, but it’s hilarious and has something to say. And I enjoyed it. The majority of critics, particularly in the US, fiercely disagree (a few have gone into bat for Lilley). The show has been labelled “sloppy, transphobic drag” by the AV Club. Even audience numbers fell by a third over the course of the six episodes, which would be of much bigger concern to the ABC. With the proliferation of sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic (and even we, at Daily Review have bought into this with our “review of reviews”) audiences have access to a broad range of critical opinion more easily than ever. We’re aware of the broad range (practically nothing has a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes) of opinions out there, but unpopular opinions fall underneath the steamroller of consensus far too often. They’re treated as an anomaly in the broader critical sphere, and far too often, much of the nuance of that critic’s argument is lost. We all have unpopular opinions, don’t we? Here are just a few of mine (as I take a deep breath and prepare to be pelted with sticks and stones for stepping outside the status quo): Games of Thrones is just Xena Warrior Princess with more money, sex and violence, but less fun. War Horse is dire onstage, but the film is Spielberg at his best (if 15 years too late). Miss Saigon is a better musical than Les Miserables. MASH is so un-funny it’s depressing. Step aside Breaking Bad (which I happen to think is awesome), Orange is the New Black is the best television drama of the past decade (although that one mightn’t be that unpopular, and the second season will probably prove me wrong or right). This weekend, I saw Squabbalogic’s Sydney production of notorious Broadway flop Carrie. For those unfamiliar with the show’s history, it premiered on Broadway in 1988 at a cost of $8 million, and closed after only 16 previews and five performances. There’s even a book by Ken Mandelbaum called Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops. Squabbalogic’s production is based on a 2012 Off-Broadway version of the show, which has been substantially rewritten, and works (for the most part). It’s actually kind of revelatory. Sure, the lyrics are still pretty awful, and some of the script is just plain weird, but the direction by Jay James-Moody and the performances are sharp as a tack, and manage to redeem most of the show’s problems. If there weren’t people out there fighting for dear old Carrie and genuinely believing there was life in her yet (I can say I was definitely not one of them), Sydney would have missed out on a fine piece of musical theatre. So if you genuinely believe a piece of derided art is worthwhile, fight for it. Nobody else will. If you think something else is completely overrated, say so. Throw your shame aside and proudly declare your unpopular opinion. Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn Email About the Author: Ben Neutze Ben Neutze is Deputy Editor of Daily Review. He has previously written for Time Out Sydney, The Guardian Australia and Limelight Magazine.