PM sitcom a little too close to home
Who's saying what
I'm not keen on watching my Prime Minister have sex on national television.
Maybe that's too much to ask. But as a citizen of one of the world's most advanced nations I think it's only fair that I expect to see our leaders leading, not engaging in foreplay.
Thankfully the Honorable Julia Gillard will not be reducing herself to such a shameful public act.
Together this duo will be the co-stars of the ABC's newest
sitcom At Home With Julia. According to an ambiguous ABC press release, the
show may feature our leading lady in the buff. One can only hope this promise
is the show’s first satirical gag.
As both a fan of irreverent Australian comedy and a proponent for intellectual political debate I'm caught in two minds about this upcoming series.
On one hand, it looks nothing short of hilarious. Judging by the TV spots, Bishop and Lloyd have caricatured Gillard and Mathieson to a tee. The dialogue is witty, the gags are topical, and the support cast is full of genuine Australian talent.
At the same time, this is our Prime Minister we're talking about. Ms. Gillard - more commonly known as Julia - is the woman representing our nation to the rest of the world. To provide a crude overview of her job criteria, she's responsible for passing reforms, considering the diverse interests of this nation's constituents, and offering leadership in times of crisis. You may argue that she's doing a poor job of it, but that doesn't change the fact that she deserves respect.
Remember, we - as a nation - voted her in last August. It may have been a protracted and convoluted process, but we voted her in nonetheless. Her position as a democratically elected Prime Minister is legitimate.
Judging by the level of media lampooning to which she's been subject, however, you'd be forgiven for thinking she was a Middle Eastern dictator.
Of course, her position of power does not make her immune from public criticism. Yet there is a fine line between democratic debate and tastelessness. On first impressions, At Home looks to be pushing that line.
Australians won't be tuning in to At Home because they want to support Australian Arts. They'll be tuning in to watch our Prime Minister engage in the mundane and ridiculous. They'll be tuning in to laugh at her.
Of course, the audience is smart enough to recognise that they're not watching the real Ms. Gillard. But at a subconscious level, At Home will no doubt affect the perceptions of Australian voters.
In the same way that we liked the Joe Hockey of Sunrise or laughed with the Julia Bishop of Yes We Canberra, we will adjust our opinions of Gillard according to her fantasy portrayal on At Home. In the examples of Hockey and Bishop, public policy was irrelevant to their television performances. Likewise, political issues will probably be avoided for much of At Home, if we are to trust ABC's efforts to remain non-partisan.
I fear At Home will nonetheless leave many Australians with a twisted perception of Australia's political landscape. Our newspapers and commercial television stations are already making their best efforts to remove the politics from politics. At Home is only going to add to the noise.
I'm all for political satire and democratic free speech. But I don't want to go to the polling booth in 2012 with a pyjama clad image of Gillard running through my head.