entertainment

Julia and Tim under the flag

So now you’ve seen what’s coming up on the next episode of Mamamia on Sky News. Tune in on Friday at 9:15pm to find out more…

But tonight everyone is talking about “Julia and Tim” under the flag.

Stephen Brook from The Australian reports

A  scene in tonight’s night’s episode shows Julia Gillard, played by Amanda Bishop, naked on her office floor wrapped in a giant Australian flag after a bout of prime-ministerial lovemaking with first bloke Tim Mathieson, played by Phil Lloyd. It is likely to further inflame the critics, some of whom have labelled the show sexist and demeaning.

The Quail Television production’s ratings have fallen from an impressive debut of 1.07 million viewers but the comedy is still winning its timeslot. In initial publicity, Bishop said: “We agreed the first couple’s bedroom was off limits.”

ABC1 controller Brendan Dahill said yesterday: “It’s a very gentle, tender scene . . . (and) perfectly logical in terms of what happens in the episode.

“If it’s OK for others to drape themselves in our flag, I really don’t see why it can’t be draped over our Prime Minister as a symbol of love.”

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You can catch the first episode of At Home with Julia here on iView and the second episode here if you missed it or here’s a taste right now:

I should disclose my interest straight up: I was at school with Amanda Bishop (who does Julia almost better than Julia) and think she is an extraordinary talent (she is also Penelope K by the way….parents will understand that reference to the kids’ show).

In fact, I spent rather a surreal election n night with Amanda– we have a close mutual friend and ended up at the same election night dinner party. She had come from a corporate gig which she does as Julia so she was in full costume (including a padded bottom, wig and fake nose).

It’s not just a costume though, as an actor, Amanda is a skilled mimic. She also nails Julia’s body language, voice and mannerisms beautifully.

So I was excited to watch the show last night and laughed out loud several times.

Not everyone loved it, response was mixed. Here are a couple of reviews:

Greg Hassall from The SMH writes

You can’t make a sitcom about a sitting PM and not create a stir but those looking to be outraged by this series will be disappointed. It is, in the best sense, a very gentle comedy, combining the cartoonishness of the domestic sitcom with well-observed political satire.
At its heart is the relationship between Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson — a sweetly absurd invention that echoes Kath & Kim’s Kath and Kel. Amanda Bishop’s impersonation of Gillard is broad and a little pantomime — perhaps displaying its roots in theatre and sketch comedy — but it has emotional depth and genuine affection. It is caricature with heart.The real emotional clout, however, comes from Phil Lloyd’s portrayal of Mathieson — a downcast, unrecognised figure who comes a poor second to the PM’s job and is tormented by the local kids (“Hey, Mr Julia — how about a haircut?”). It’s funny but there’s genuine pathos, too.

While Ant Sharwood from The Punch writes

Imagine if someone had pitched a similar show about John and Janette Howard, or – God forbid – Joh and Flo Bjelke-Petersen. The script would quite rightly never have made it past the security guards at reception.

Yet somehow, it was deemed OK to make sexual jokes about an incumbent prime minister in her late 40s, whose love life has never had the tabloid quality of, say, Bob Hawke’s. Even if you dislike Labor and Gillard, the nookie scenes were cringeworthy and savagely inappropriate.

The other problem with this show was, well, pretty much everything. By which you might include an unfunny script, crap acting and woeful, woeful impersonations of the likes of Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott. Max Gillies must have had a heart attack.

A target as big as obvious as the PM is no place for experiment. You’ve got to be really, really funny, and this show was not that by a long stretch.

We even had dissent in the office this morning.  Well, Lana and Rick agreed with each other but they disagreed with me. Vehemently.

Lana writes: I could not watch so I am not sure if it was funny or if the acting was good.  I just believe that to make a sitcom about our Prime Minister lacks respect at every level. Don’t want to be part of it.

Rick writes: Loathe it. I cannot put into words how much I loathe this concept. It is insidious pap that’s belittling the office of the Prime Minister. I don’t feel the need to defend the policy platform of a clearly flailing Government, but shows like this just give credibility to the silly haters who can’t be bothered articulating their arguments against policy and just making fun of the PM’s voice or her clothes or ‘Mr Gillard’ because LOL, isn’t that just funny? No. No it’s not. The office of PM deserves more respect, whether it’s John Howard or Julia in there. Julia Gillard is the sitting PM and this show is disrespectful.

What did you think?