Chris Lilley’s Ja’mie: Private School Girl receives conflicted reviews

24 October, 2013 by

Character actor specialist, Chris Lilley, initially introduced audiences to his over-achieving, relentlessly self-absorbed and superficial private school girl character, Ja’mie King on 2005’s We Could Be Heroes, as one of six unlikely contenders for Australian of the Year. He then plunged her into the unchartered territory of public school on his next series, Summer Heights High in 2007. Now, Ja’mie is the centre of attention in Ja’mie: Private School Girl.

A co-production of ABC, BBC and HBO, the series premiered last night on ABC1 to a total audience, inclusive of regional ratings, of 1.27 million.

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Memorable quotes and buzz words from the show were already trending on Twitter shortly after the first episode aired; particularly the term ‘quiche’ which Ja’mie uses to describe someone who is especially attractive, or in her words, “better than hot.”

Some critics sang the Hillford Girls’ Grammar School Captain’s praise, such as David Mills from the Herald Sun, who wrote, “It was vintage Ja’mie: narcissistic, offensive, bullying and hilarious.”

Debi Enker of The Age admired Lilley for his ability to captivate us with abhorrent characters we love to hate, but whom we then feel for as their worlds begin to fall apart. “That’s part of his genius. Even with characters as contemptible as Ja’mie, he guides us to engage with their wrong-headed exploits,” she wrote, and concluded, “Over the years and through an array of series, we’ve become accustomed to Lilley’s edgy creations and extraordinary transformations, and perhaps we’re no longer dazzled by them. But we should be.”

However, many critics also expressed concern about the series lacking a balance of light and shade, wondering whether or not Ja’mie might just be too mean to stomach without the contrast of a variety of characters alongside her.

From The Guardian, Rob Moran considered Ja’mie way too cruel this time around, calling her a “teenage Medusa” and claiming that “Ja’mie’s all-encompassing nastiness could become this series’ biggest obstacle.”

A fan of Lilley’s, Ben Pobjie, also of The Age, named him “one of the most brilliant comedic minds and greatest actors Australia has produced,” however, Pobjie felt as though the character of Ja’mie has already reached her full potential and may not have enough comedic power to carry a series alone. He writes, “It looks like Private School Girl is the same old mannerisms, the same old situations, the same old teen-grotesque routine.”

Ja’mie: Private School Girl airs on ABC1 on Wednesday nights at 9pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Ja’mie hater

    Since when does making bullying become funny. I am from a ‘Private’ schoolboy background in the U.K. and grew up with people like this who unfortunately still exist. My own son who attends private college in Perth stated that his year, 11, has the name for being the worst bully’s in the college which absolutely appals me.

    It is shows like this that give students the opportunity to learn new ways of bullying and think its ok because it’s Chris Lilley who says so.

    This show is not funny, people laugh and then believe they shouldn’t, well be honest with yourselves and others and don’t laugh in then first place and get this show off air.

  • megan

    oh reviews, bla bla bla, she’s a bitch and I loved it. Thanks Chris Lilley, reminds me of everything I don’t want my daughter to grow up to be.

  • PatrickR

    Oi Loiked it

  • al

    Jamie hater, while I agree bullying is terrible I don’t think the show is saying it’s ok.
    As someone who was bullied at school I love this show and seeing a bully mocked. Humour is a powerful tool and sometimes better than preaching.

  • mik.

    it was so good omg

  • TG

    @Ja’mie hater

    Couldn’t disagree more.

    It’s supposed to be funny because it’s using satire. No one is laughing with Ja’mie.

    We are laughing because Lilley emphasizes just how ridiculously stupid her actions are, and in a wider context just how stupid some things teenagers can do are, including bullying.

  • Grace

    OMG it was totes Ja’mazing!!!

  • Brianna

    oh god I love this show it’s so terrible but no one is going to take it seriously ahaha I think it’s great

  • Miguel

    Satire is difficult as there will always be a part of the population (particularly the one being satirised) who will not see it as humorous social commentary, but rather as validation of the behaviours being criticised.

    Besides, Lilley’s show is clearly satire, but sadly the way ABC is (very successfully) promoting the show, seems to be glamorising Ja’mie’s negative traits rather than treating it as the satire it’s supposed to be.

  • gus

    Lilley is clever as f*** in so many ways but he is forgetting to be funny. Summer Heights High is the only thing he’s done that was consistently funny rather than now and then funny. I think he is too heavily influenced by Gervais. They both have a good grasp of nasty characters but Gervais handles the dark side as well as tugging at the heartstrings a lot better and doesn’t drop the ball while doing so. Also has anyone noticed Ja’mie has changed? She used to vain and shallow but not openly malicious.

  • Jessica

    Why do people think dramas with unpleasant characters in them are bad dramas? Try having a drama without them.

  • Jessica

    Bullying discussions are just a marketing ploy.
    Watching the show was just as painfully boring as watching real kids in a playground.
    Hope something happens in the series- though bring Aussie drama, probably not.

  • Pia

    I loved it! So entertaining and such a realistic depiction of Aussie high school girls. Can’t wait for the next episode.

  • lucy54

    @Ja’mie hater Couldn’t disagree more. It’s supposed to be funny because it’s using satire. No one is laughing with Ja’mie. We are laughing because Lilley emphasizes just how ridiculously stupid her actions are, and in a wider context just how stupid some things teenagers can do are, including bullying.
    Posted by TG. 27/10/2013 12:09:39 PM

    – I completely and utterly 100% couldn’t agree more with this! Perfect way of description it.

  • willowbel

    @ja’mie hater, we are not laughing along with the bully we are laughing at the bully at how pathetic she acts, how she talks, and how she perceives herslef as this totally quiche chick…and the best part is there are others that really do act like this in real life and they are finally looking into the mirror of themselves and seeing that they are being mocked in a mocumentary!!

  • perfectprefect

    awkies, like we can’t help it if were just too quiche for all of you. PERFECT PREFECTS 5 EVER

  • Jessica

    I can only hope that Chris Lilley has more sense and knowledge of Africa apart from the stereotypical crap that he has honed into and overused in the writing of his scripts.

  • snakecharmer

    You are brilliant Chris Lilley!

  • sb

    I LOVE U CHRIS LILLEY

    THE HATERS ARE JEALOUS

    HE IS AMAZING AND THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME !!

    HEHE SB OUT

  • Red

    I agree with gus, ja’mie has changed. It’s almost like lilley has to try extra hard to try to keep everyone’s attention. I just watched the first ep, and even though it has flashes of the usual Lilley-brilliance, it also gets very old very quickly – there’s only so much narcissism and teenage whinging one can take in 20minutes. Not entirely sure if I’m game to watch another episode!

  • Disappointed

    Too close to real life to be funny (bullying, out of touch super rich). I just kept waiting to laugh. Jamie is too horrible a character to have as the star of the show. I really, really wanted to like this but it just feels like it’s condoning Jamie’s behaviour because it’s supposed to be funny. Unlike Lilley’s other works, after episode one, I thought this was rubbish and I won’t be going back for more

  • JimPatterson

    Promoting Bullying or Hilarious?
    Not many noteworthy parodies of Ja’mie but this is crazy!

    http://youtu.be/weCedyKNTUQ

    “Canuck Bitch!”?

  • Kristeen

    The point of this parody of school bullies is that Chris is highlighting how ridiculous yet dangerous these girls really are in the schoolyard today. Jamai represents real school
    bully characteristics -racist, vain, egocentric, manipulitive, exclusionist, spoilt, rude, disrespectful, slutty, shallow..to name a few. He has this collaborative characterisation spot on. The funniest part is that the girls who are probably not laughing are the ones he is poking fun at. These girls are real and Chris has done a great job ridiculing girls like Jamai who are becoming a
    a real problem in our schools, initiating fights, standover tactics and disdain for any authority.
    Long live Chris Lilley!

  • kathy

    I am totally addicted to this show so awesome and funny I could watch this every night I am laughing my butt off favorite show for sure.