When on the hunt for Jonah from Tonga, I signed up for Netflix and after binge watching Jonah, Okja, Minimalism and Please Like Me, I may even keep the subscription going after the first free month. So far, it's been really worth it.
The first episode of Please Like Me is a struggle. The main character (and writer) is Josh Thomas and his awkwardness is a bit cringey to start with but right from the start you can see the brilliant acting, strong story lines, unexpected twists and gritty conversations.
That the majority of these conversations and twists are around having mental health issues and being gay (not necessarily related in this show btw), is brave enough but they're handled exceptionally well and anyone struggling with either of these issues would find this show both stimulating and refreshing in it's head-on-ness.
There's no meanness. There's no good versus evil. Everyone is just trying to get on with theirs and others dysfunctions with self awareness and humour.
Most of all, however, it's wracked with raw honesty.
If humans could learn to be honest without being mean, and learn how to take this honesty without offense, they would develop more meaningful relationships, be more courageous and not be so afraid to love.
I was shocked to see it was 3:30am when the binge spell was momentarily broken by a full bladder and also thrilled that there are two more seasons to watch and talk of more...
It's sad that people are so racist, all they can see and react to is the brown face/Tongan aspect of Jonah from Tonga.
That is judgement at its most base. Judging something from it's external appearance without giving it a chance.
Yes, Jonah is painful to watch because he's clearly troubled but he isn't troubled because he's Tongan, he's troubled because he's an adolescent.
Chris Lilley's writing is exceptional in the way he sets up relationships, showing how complications and misunderstandings arise, especially with Jonah's naivete.
But he also shows the compassion and empathy of those who Jonah most antagonises.
It's a shame the majority of those reacting can't see that this series, as with Summer Heights High, gives adults and young teens an opportunity to view the complexities of the adolescent transition.
There are strong story lines around the characters who don't give up on them and the resulting trust and respect the young ones develop with them (reference when the boys sing the traditional Tongan song for someone who is leaving, to their favourite teacher)
This is what should be taken away from both series.
To see the children, not their behaviour and the ultimate outcome of resilience.
It's such a shame that the Maori TV Board have taken away this opportunity, projecting their 'adult' views on a series, that could have a positive impact on the adolescent viewers.
These series could be a relevant resource to use in class to draw out children experiencing difficulties. Pointing out Jonah's behaviour, why the adults react the way they do, then how they could do things differently.
Yes, I'm a sickeningly optimistic idealist and I'm hoping, for the kids sake, others are too...
Pimp My Attitude
This is where I think out loud as I transform my appearance, thought processes and most of all, attitude - no matter how unpretty.