Monday, December 16, 2013

The Existential Crises of Ja’mie: Private School Girl

 Goodbye, housewives! I’ve found a new guilty pleasure! It’s called Ja’mie: Private School Girl and it’s on HBO.
You may recall star, writer and director Chris Lilley from his last HBO show, Summer Heights High, which also featured the eponymous Ja’mie (pronounced Ja-MAY, and played by Mr. Lilley).
Now, I’ve never been to private school (nor have I ever been a teenage girl), but I have to say that Mr. Lilley has captured this world with all the detail of an anthropologist! One of the things that makes the show so simultaneously entertaining and horrifying, is the way it demonstrates the degree to which Valley Girl-isms have saturated the conversation not just of teenage girls (and many adults of both sexes) in the United States, but apparently Australia, as well.
Part of me wants to feel above getting caught up in the exploits of Ja’mie and her ability to turn every minor event in her life into an existential crisis and part of me wants to totally give in to it and jump up and down on her bed with her.
To say that Ja’mie is fond of hyperbole would be an understatement. After a while, you too may find yourself overusing such words/phrases as “seriously,” “literally,” “I'm literally freaking out right now” and “I seriously can't even deal.”
I must give kudos as well to the supporting cast for being able to maintain a straight face through all this. The other “private school girls” are played by actual biological girls who seem to be in or near their teens and ground the show in something approaching reality. Also on hand are Ja’mie’s tirelessly patient parents and school principal, her gay best friend, her hot new boyfriend, and an African boy that Ja’mie’s family “adopts” (and has yet to utter a word of dialogue).
The show is also educational. For example, up until now, I didn’t realize that being called gay was the worst thing that could happen to a teenage girl. (Homophobia: it’s not just for boys anymore!)
In his earlier show, Mr. Lilley also played a somewhat effeminate drama teacher and a teenage thug in addition to Ja’mie, but it’s in Ja’mie that he has found his true calling. (His talents also extend to interpretive dance and singing, as he demonstrates in some of the show’s other running motifs.)
I look forward—with unrestrained teenage longing—to watching Jai’mie’s travails unfold the rest of this season.