I just watched the latest episode of Ja’mie by Chris Lilley.
OMG, I can.not.believe.him.
After about three minutes you’ve completely forgotten that this horrid, new millennium version of a character from The Naughtiest Girl in the School, is not real, forgotten that this is not a doco. Or Big Brother. And that she is a bloke. I don’t find the show funny at all, it is more cringe-worthy than anything, and a even bit embarrassing, as I wonder how much of Ja’mie was me at school. Yet I can’t look away. Even though I want to. Would prefer it, even.
Perhaps the show is so startling because even though Ja’mie herself is OTT, the way Lilley portrays her is not extravagant or elaborate or even drag-queenish at all. The show is not that kind of entertainment, where we, the audience get a wink and a nod that lets us in on the joke. It is serious, or at least that is how I take it. Chris Lilley just happens to be portraying a girl, and I find it interesting and strange that he does it so convincingly.
I find the whole thing very uncomfortable, and I wonder how much of it is the gender issue, and how much is the disgust with the characters of Ja’mie and her girlfriends. I’d love to be able to separate the two. To be able to figure out what it is that I don’t like, or is it because it’s all manner of my biases and prejudices rolled into one? There is a lot of ugliness by the teens, with no redemption or resolution, as the adults appear oblivious to, and even enable, what is going on. And that ugliness is hard to see. Or unsee.
It’s a fascinating half hour. I love it when an actor is able to draw me into their world so convincingly, without my consent, and in this instance, wincing all the way. I don’t like the sensation. It makes my skin crawl and I feel like a cleansing shower afterwards, and yet I know I’ll be back for as long as Lilley makes me.
This is not the first time Chris Lilley has done this to me, and hopefully it won’t be the last.
Have you seen the show?
I’d love to know what you think.