As Angry Boys gradually reaches its finale, the strengths and weaknesses of Chris Lilley’s characters get thrown into ever-sharper relief. I don’t believe that his attempts at mimicking characters from other cultures was a fatal idea, but it is striking how Jen Okazaki and S.mouse are so clearly the least-essential characters in the series. They lack the humanity and empathy that the other Angry Boys characters possess and unfortunately their lack of development also has them running out of steam when it comes to how funny they are. S.mouse is deluded and washed-up and Jen is selfish and possibly insane; it feels like we’ve spent a lot of time confirming this.
It’s frustrating that this weakness the first thing that jumped to my mind because there was a lot to like about episodes 9 and 10, although the positives of the episodes were more sweet and melancholy than funny ha-ha.
As was teased at the end of episode 8 (does anybody else feel like the teasers give away too much?), Kareena has left Blake now that he’s possibly implicated in Packo’s shooting and could potentially face jail time. Tonight Hunter began to show his true colors: “If she didn’t come back, it wouldn’t be so bad,” he offers, which Blake gently rebuts. Is Hunter simply the childish devil on Blake’s shoulder, or, is it possible that Hunter’s in love with his friend? As the Mucca boys try to distract Blake with lighted farts and tickles (it’s a little hard for me to believe just how arrested their development is), he demonstrates what he calls the “Blink Method,” i.e. his way of fighting off tears. Blake calls Kareena after brainstorming ways to get her back (“pot-purri”) but it’s unclear whether she’ll take him back. The last shot of Blake in Episode 9 is of him, on his bed, blinking furiously. Blake to me is a little like Daniel Sims of the future.
Daniel also has a rough time in episode 9: after Nathan models his new school uniform, Daniel mocks him (“I thought it was deaf school, not homosexual school.” ) so Nathan runs off and hides. Daniel beats himself up and enlists his friend Black Daniel to help find his brother. After convincing himself that Nathan’s in a swamp somewhere, Daniel comes home to realize his brother was just hiding in a cupboard and apologizes profusely. I liked that the boys’ mom, upon finding him, gave Nathan the credit of trying to be a good sport about deaf school. In the end, Nathan gets revenge by posting Daniel’s naked baby photos on Myspace--Daniel pounds his brother, but you could tell that Nathan loved it.
The boys had a happier time in episode 10 as they plotted a way to entice S.mouse into coming to Nathan’s going-away party with the made-up story of a squashed Aboriginal kid. Meanwhile, Kerry and Steve are getting married and Daniel and Nathan demonstrate what I love most about them as characters: their struggles to be men as they enjoy their boyhood. Daniel instructs all the kids to tell Kerry she looks nice yet he and Nathan giggle over the idea to present Steve with the rings on his middle fingers. Daniel does some freestyle rapping to provide the entertainment after the wedding (he’s about as good as S.mouse: “Steve...Steve...what you got up your sleeve?”) and even though the entertainment also consisted of skateboarding and a Parkour demonstration, you could tell that the boys took it very seriously. It was sweet.
Of course the real story of the night came from Gran, but when does it not? The vast difference between how much I care about her and S.mouse is an illustration of the series’ biggest fault. An entire show could have been made about just Gran and the boys so I’ve come to resent every wasted scene that doesn’t involve her. Tonight, Gran is devastated to find out that her favorite guinea pig, Kerri Ann, has died. The boys all accuse Talib of killing it. While Gran tries to protect him, I don’t know why she thinks a game of Twister would be a good way of keeping things calm between the boys. A fight breaks out and Talib gets sent to solitary, which is where Gran’s dearly-departed Tony killed himself 15 years ago. Another boy, Justin, is also in solitary and Gran works her butt off with jokes and songs to keep the two awake and engaged. At the end of the shift, she brings them some blankets to keep them warm, which we know is significant because, in a very rare instance on the show, we hear background music. In the next scene we see (following an extremely stupid S.mouse storyline I will discuss shortly), an ambulance is leaving the center. One of the boys did try to commit suicide, but it was Justin and he’ll be okay. “Any idiot knows there’s no blankets in iso,” the guard on duty says. Gran’s in trouble. How could you not feel for her as she faced her supervisor, feeling terrible about history almost repeating itself and having to explain that it’s not that she’s careless, but that her mind is going?
The S.mouse story, in comparison, was so insignificant, and, maybe worse, unfunny that it makes me angry that it was in the same episode. In his ongoing attempt to rebrand his image, the rapper and his crew do a photo shoot out by the pool. S.mouse has chosen an outfit at first that I could almost see someone like Kanye West daring to try as a fuck-you to the masses (tight pants, cropped jacket, looking a bit like the superhero outfits the boys wear in the show’s intro) but then the whole thing devolved into silliness, the nipple-less shirt being especially flagrant. Unflattering photos of S.mouse end up on the internet and he ends up getting dumped by LaSquisha. As he desperately looks online for signs that anybody out there still likes him, S.mouse comes across the plea from Daniel Sims. I feel such disdain for the S.mouse character that my hope is that he flies to Australia for the party where everyone realizes that he is, in fact, a hack, as opposed to giving him a hero’s welcome.
Tim Okazaki has more going on for him: in episode 9 he finally truly rebels against Jen by announcing online that he has a girlfriend after realizing that she meddled with his cola commercial and has been hiding his fan mail. I’m glad for Tim, but even though he’s the only actual human when it comes to that particular storyline, Jen still dominates. What will come of her? I predict that she will learn nothing and either try to run the Tim brand on her own or try to thrust one of her other kids in the spotlight. Her character doesn’t bother me as much as S.mouse’s for some reason, but I feel like we’ve come to the end of the tracks when it comes to what we can get from her both in terms of laughs and character.
I have some other inklings of how the series will end (like I said before, I spoiled myself, but only in a very general sense). I really wanted to love this series but instead feel frustrated by its wasted opportunities: I hope the finale pulls it all together.
--Can someone please clarify for me authoritatively: is Steve’s dog’s called Fuck Horse?
--The two funniest parts of each episode were the random little Daniel and Nathan stories. “It’s just a license I’ve invented.” “I’m going to sleep, so just talk about whatever.”
--”What! I’m the fucking nice one!”