TV Reviews: Please Like Me

TV Review: Please Like Me

Homosexulaity confronts society and its views in Please Like Me

By Mark HadleyTuesday 19 Mar 2013TV and StreamingReading Time: 3 minutes

Channel: ABC2
Time-slot: Thursdays, 9.30 pm
Rating: M 

Please Like Me
is a perfect chronicle of the intolerance that surrounds the homosexual movement – though the victims don’t appear to be the gays.

Josh Thomas, 2011’s GQ Comedian of the Year and Generation Y captain for Talkin’ Bout Your Generation has written and produced a comedy drama about coming to terms with homosexuality in Australia. But don’t tune in looking for laughs; this is quite probably one of the most un-funny programs the ABC has ever broadcast. 

Josh plays Josh, a 20-year-old man who has just broken up with his long-time girlfriend after she points out what’s obvious to her: “You’re gay.” Josh is not so sure but coincidentally falls into an explicitly physical relationship with Geoffrey the same day. In the meantime his family life is exploding – his mother has attempted suicide, his divorced father is wracked with guilt and his Christian Aunty Peg is providing dubious support. 

But the real issue is how Josh is coping with the new discovery about his sexuality. He clearly likes Geoffrey’s company but is uncomfortable with people knowing his new orientation. He’s drawn to his accepting personality and good looks, but terrified by the prospect of sex. The series suggests that Josh is the one who will make the ultimate decision, piecing together what works for him in a generation that believes what’s right is a patchwork quilt of what works for you. 

Of course the opponents of this self-determinism are initially embodied in Josh’s Aunt Peg. She is the opinionated, religious relative who gets on everyone’s nerves. Her plan to help Josh’s depressed mother is transparently self-serving:

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Peg: I had an idea to help your mum, to get her out of the house and help her make new friends. I think she should come to church – and you should come too.

Josh: Peg, we don’t want to come to church. We’ve spoken about this. We don’t believe in God.

Peg: Well would you prefer to go to Hell? … I’m not going to be around for much longer and I’d just like to believe that one day I’m going to bump into you in Heaven.

Peg eventually gets her way through a combination of manipulation and blackmail. But the church she forces Josh to attend preaches a message of intolerance that is constructed from clichés and unsupported assertions. Is it any wonder then that Josh’s decision to be gay seems reasonable by comparison? And that Aunty Peg has a ‘road to Damascus’ moment mid-sermon that sees her converted to the cause?

Peg: If [Josh] has decided to lead a homosexual life-style, isn’t it my responsibility to love him? Because if they are born that way, they have no choice but to be true to themselves… And if it isn’t what God would want then he – or she – can stick it!

The truth, though, is that Please Like Me is as riddled with clichés as the church it opposes. Its straw Christians are unloving, unreasonable, uninformed. More so they are aged, socially disconnected and bound by tradition. I don’t doubt that a program that applied the same level of caustic generalization to the homosexual community would be condemned out of hand, long before it made it to the ABC. But that’s the surest way to win an argument, by first demonising then ridiculing your opposition. It’s also the surest way to demonstrate the weakness of your position.