There’s a bit of a trend going on lately, as local girls make good. Claudia Karvan in Spirited. Asher Keddie in Offspring. Robyn Butler in The Librarians. And the underdogs in Winners and Losers are coming soon.
This week ABC premieres a new comic drama / dramedy / comedy (it depends what school you went to), Laid, written by Marieke Hardy (First Tuesday Book Club, Packed to the Rafters, Last Man Standing).
This is a girl’s own misadventure, and like the vehicles for Karvan and Keddie, it features an imperfect, contemporary female as its lead. In the case of Laid‘s Roo McVeigh (Alison Bell) she is the most hapless of the lot.
Roo (pictured, left) works for a Market Research Group running test focus groups for such enthralling products as Soy Milk. Her group sessions are about as gregarious as her uneventful life gets. Even her colleague reckons her romantic life is a pointless exercise. Her hairdo isn’t even trying.
Roo shares an inner city flat with her best friend EJ (Celia Pacquola) who is breaking up from her needy boyfriend (Toby Truslove). But Roo learns that a former fling has died on holiday. Death by kava. While it doesn’t devastate her, it does make her take stock of things.
While checking his kinky Facebook page -in the office no less- Roo stumbles across a cute IT guy, Charlie (Abe Forsythe). Both are awkward in their mutual attraction.
But life takes an unexpected turn when she learns another former conquest has also expired. There’s a bit of a trend happening. Can a woman be a modern day jinx?
This is a character comedy with understated performances under director Trent O’Donnell (Review with Myles Barlow). It has self-irony, pop culture references and a fair whack of under-achievement.
It also doesn’t shy away from being upfront about adult themes.
But warning: don’t expect laugh out loud gags, at times it revels in black comedy. On this front I suspect it could be a show that tickles some funny bones while others are left awaiting sitcom-style punchlines that never come.
What gives this spirit is the performance of Bell as a lovable loser, nerdy and apologetic. So often in television this is a male’s domain.
In subsequent episodes there are supporting roles from Shaun Micallef, Graeme Blundell and Tracy Mann.
‘Quirky’ is a genre that Australian stories seems to revel in. Laid is just about as quirky as they come.
Laid airs 9:30pm Wednesdays on ABC1.