SBS comedy Wilfred has come under fire today for taking $1.5m in government grants across two series as “a comedy about a bong-smoking dog that has sex with a cat.”
“The cult SBS series Wilfred is also peppered with profanity, full-frontal nudity and jokes about rape,” notes the Herald Sun.
The show is one of many projects that was eligible for subsidy funding through Federal and State film bodies. Film Victoria has contributed $210,000 for first series and $294,048 towards the second while Screen Australia (previously the AFC) contributed $400,000 to Series One and about $580,000 to Series Two.
But the Herald Sun has made references to its language and adult concepts with a criticism from Family First Senator Steve Fielding, who suggests the money would be better used for health and education.
SBS spokesperson Jane McMillan defended Wilfred noting its AFI Awards and pre-television Tropfest wins.
“We know that it will not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s in the appropriate timeslot, with the appropriate rating and comes with the appropriate warnings.
“SBS, like the ABC, invests what limited budget it has in quality Australian productions because we want to tell Australian stories with an Australian voice. We want to encourage local talent.”
Thankfully Screen Australia recognises that not everybody wants their comedy safe and predictable and has funded the project which not only created employment for its cast and crew but develops the talents of its creatives.
Since being supported with government funding, Adam Zwar has gone on to create Lowdown, the upcoming ABC comedy, while Jason Gann is finalising a deal for a US version of Wilfred.
Meanwhile Family First says nothing about the 1.4m Australians who sit down for the sexually-driven gags of Two and a Half Men every weeknight (where are the family values there?), in a show that is much cheaper to buy than producing local Australian comedies.
$1.5m subsidy for sixteen episodes of television is remarkably cheap, when one hour of Australian drama costs between $500,000 – $800,000.
Shouldn’t the story really have asked Screen Australia and Film Victoria to justify their funding decisions?
Maybe it was a better story because Satisfaction is off air and Home and Away is currently lacking gay sub-plots. Maybe it made for a better headline than “Aussie comedy set for US remake.” A more valid question might have even been “Critical hit, but who is watching?”
If SBS is really lucky, the controversy might be enough to bring more eyeballs to the show anyway….
Source: Herald Sun