It’s been a long time since an Italian immigrant was affectionately dubbed ‘a bloody dago’ in “They’re a Weird Mob.” But ethnic humour has entrenched itself in Australian culture ever since. The stage success of “Wogs Out Of Work” led to Acropolis Now, Effie: Just Quietly, and indirectly to Greeks on the Roof. Along the way we’ve seen other memorable characters in Home Sweet Home, plus Con the Fruiterer, that ‘bloody wog’ in Kingswood Country and Fat Pizza’s Pauly to name but a few.
Now we have Kick from SBS.
This 13 part feelgood drama (or is that a feelgood comedy?) hosts an array of diverse characters who live on Hope Street in the Inner Northern suburbs of Melbourne. It’s a humble, somewhat ramshackled neighbourhood of terrace houses, 1960s brick veneer and the obligatory Euro-statue by the gate. There’s not a McMansion or an Erinsborough middle-class house in sight. Still, these neighbours are more than just good friends. They are the United Nations of fun.
Central amongst its lazy-susan of lively and colourful characters is Miki (Zoe Ventoura) who is forced to move back with her parents when she can no longer pay her bills. Miki mid-20s, is a modern Australian woman under the roof of her traditional Greek parents (George Kapiniaris and Maria Mercedes) who meddle in and mismanage her personal life. Miki takes a job as the local medical centre receptionist where she meets Indian doctor Joe (Raji James) and a romantic comedy of errors ensues.
The opening episode is brimming with characters -possibly too many- including Hoa Tran (Anh Do) who while running the local Vietnamese Bakery is more interested in his karaoke night. Serb-Russian Tatiana, 16 year old Lebanese Osama and Muslim Taghred are into football. Taghred even cheerfully plays sport while wearing her headscarf.
And proving its diversity is adept, we have 19 yo Lebanese Layla (Nicole Chamoun) who while fencing with Jackie (Romi Trower) is struck by an instant, electric attraction. The sword-fighting touch was totally original, avoiding any lesbian stereotype, and if anything, only made two sexy girls way sexier.
The series is an affectionate, fresh multicultural take on our suburbs. It bubbles in a melting pot of spicy flavours with a range of playing styles from broad to unassuming. Throughout it has its heart on its sleeve.
Colour leaks from every corner of Kick. It bursts onto the screen with a stunning visual look from the late cinematographer Will Gibson and production designer Jo Ford.
Creator / Director Esben Storm (himself from Danish origins) drew upon workshops with multicultural Australians in devising Kick. Not dissimilar to American sitcom writing, separate writers were assigned different scriptwriters, in order to capture individual voices.
This is a lively romp that celebrates what it is to be a dinky-di ethnic in Howard’s Australia.
Kick premieres 8:00pm Saturday June 9 on SBS