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This kid Josh Thomas – who some Australians are sneery about for reasons that I can only imagine are about being precocious, or a capitalist – was only 20 when he wrote the first series of Please Like Me and I know that fact that is not an enticement to watch this show, what with it’s terrible title and share house quirk aesthetic and episode titles named for food, it’s a miracle that I ever watched a single episode.

As well as being totes cool about porn, I’ve come round to romantic comedy of late and PLM may as well be described as a coming-of-age rom com centred around Josh – writer /protagonist- who we meet in season 1 just as he agrees that maybe he should split up with his girlfriend because he’s gay. His girlfriend Claire is philosophical about it and they remain friends, just like in actual real life.

Diversity is never a gag or a set up here and it always looks like an ordinary (albiet entitled, white middle-class) life, even when the characters are all thoroughly eccentric. There’s a whole bunch of dominant paradigm subversion going on, but the characters are never maudlin about it in the way that the disappointingly dull housecats of Looking can be. Which is not to say that this just another show about modern manners cut from the’Friends’ template, because things get surprisingly dark and far more grown-up as both seasons progress, revealing Josh’s Spongebob cheerfulness to be just as much of a coping mechanism as a naturally sweet disposition.

Josh’s BFF Tom, is the only note that doesn’t quite play for me. The trope of the  loser bro who fucks with women who are way out of his league isn’t necessarily more offensive than just being a cliche, but in a show with a big heart and a cast of very endearing characters, there’s not a lot to like. Unless I’m missing some deeper commentary, he’s just a standard demographic avatar to get gross penis bros to watch a show about a skinny gay boy . The rest of the cast are stellar however, particularly the parents. Former Home and Away actress Debra Lawrance as Josh’s bipolar mother has done most of the dramatic heavy lifting as well as being a fine comedian. David Roberts’ ( Matrix Reloaded ) and Renee Lim (who happens to be a practicing physician who also acts ) as his bewildered dad and straight-talking step-mother are a spin-off show that I would watch for sure.

I’m not going to pull a quote because I’ve deleted the file, but there’s a really nice opening scene where Josh is on a date with a hippy dude who tells him he’s just had a Reiki massage. Josh proceeds to serve him for believing in snake oil and he’s clever and funny and well-informed and of course I agree with every word.  Hippy dude just says, “Hey, I’m sorry, but I’m going to go. I’m just looking for someone really kind and gentle to be with and I don’t think this is going to work,” and leaves, just as a huge order of vegan food is placed on their table.

 

 

 

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