An Australian Cringe Comedy
series created by Chris Lilley, Summer Heights High
is a series is a Mockumentary
on the goings-on at the Summer Heights High School. Specifically, it revolves around three characters:
None of these ever meet, which is for a reason — all three are expertly played by Lilley himself.
Most of the show focuses on highly detailed Improv
comedy filmed at an actual school, with a large cast of teenagers all participating in the story. Although the show is largely a parody, many real social issues in Australian society are examined, and Lilley's characters get some very genuine moments as the story progresses.
Over the course of eight episodes, Mr G develops a drama production based on the incident of a student dying from a drug overdose, Ja'mie attempts to fit in with her new 'povo' school and start a Year 11 dance formal, and Jonah flouts the school rules with his gang of friends.
The series very much takes Refuge in Audacity
, saying and doing things that most other shows refuse to do. As a result of this, it became extremely popular, but was most popular among school students, who recognised parallels with the show in their own daily lives.
Also, its popularity resulted in Lilley (in the Mr. G persona) releasing a single, Naughty Girl
, based off a song from the musical in the show.
A sequel series, Ja'mie: Private School Girl
aired in November 2013, and as it concluded its run in Australia, Lilley announced another: Jonah from Tonga
This show provides examples of:
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Ja'mie cons the principal into throwing a Year 11 Dance Formal, despite the fact that Formals have been banned at Summer Heights High for years.
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: When Mr. G is promoted to
interim chair of the Drama department Head of Performing Arts. Though he was a narcissist to begin with, he takes it Up to Eleven within hours.
- Alpha Bitch: Ja'mie King.
- Asian and Nerdy: Ja'mie's "friend" Bec before she became friends with the Hot Girls.
- Attention Whore: Ja'mie and Mr. G.
- Ax-Crazy: One of the students' in Jonah's class reads a story about him going on a methodically planned-out school shooting in front of school staff and parents.
- Bait and Switch:
: I know a job where I can sing, and I can dance, and I can act every day. And get paid for it.
) And it was drama teaching.
- Call Back: In the first episode, it's mentioned that Ja'mie has been "Nominated for Australian of the year" which is a Call Back to "We Can Be Heroes" Lilley's previous mockumentuary series.
- Catch Phrase: Ja'mie's "so random".
- Her "no offense" that usually follows a very offensive statement also counts.
- Character Development: Purposefully averted.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "If you fuck up in school, you're going to fuck up in life. That's fucked."
- Drugs Are Bad: The inspirational message of the "Mr. G" character in "Mr. G: The Musical."
- Eating Lunch Alone: When Ja'mie King has fallen out with her friends, an inversion of this trope leads to her spending lunchtimes in the staff room, rather than eating alone.
- Gag Penis: Jonah's graffiti-motif.
- Ghetto Name / Preppy Name: Oddly inverted, "Jamie" as a girl's name isn't particularly upper-crust and Ja'mie's addition of the apostrophy and that pronunciation takes it in the opposite direction she probably intended — although this in itself serves to compound how ignorant of her own ghastliness she actually is. And at least to Americans, "Jonah" is more of a mommy-went-to-college name, if more so for someone Lilley's Jonah's age than a little kid. To an Aussie/UK audience however, "Jonah" is the kind of slightly obscure biblical name you'd expect to hear from minority groups.
- Girl Posse: Has its version of the bitchy, popular Alpha Bitches who dubbed themselves "The Hot Girls".
- Hyper Competent Sidekick: Mr. G's (married) fellow teacher, Rodney, who is hopelessly devoted to him and even dresses like him. May or may not be a Stalker with a Crush.
- Informed Attribute: A rare case of this being invoked on purpose, Ja'mie is talked up by everyone- including herself- as a highly intelligent Go-Getter Girl who is the star student at her original school. However, all we see of her in action is a bitchy airheaded ditz who is more concerned with popularity and frivolous things like the school Formal than her studies.
- Informed Attractiveness: Ja'mie, and she's not shy about mentioning it.
- It's All About Me: All three main characters.
- Ironic Nickname: Jonah goes by the graffiti handle "Dick-tation" but seems to be functionally illiterate.
- It Is Pronounced Ja-MAY
- Karma Houdini: Everyone. Possibly averted with Jonah.
- Kick the Dog: Everyone, but especially Mr. G: In the finale he reveals that his dog is alive - though paralyzed, and it's implied he planted her poop to get the disabled kids kicked out of their classroom so he could claim it (mainly for the ramp since the dog is in a support carriage).
- Jonah's English teacher in the final episode.
- Manipulative Bastard: All three characters, to some extent.
- Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Mr. G.
- Mister Muffykins: Celine, Mr. G's chihuahua.
- The Musical: Previous Mr.G productions include a 2004 Tsunami musical called "Tsunamarama" and "M8, You Can't Sk8- the Avril Lavigne Story".
- New Transfer Student: Ja'mie is an exchange student from a private girls' school.
- Oblivious to Love: Mr. G doesn't seem to notice or care how much his sidekick does for him.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The core of Jonah's character is apparently choosing not to be smart.
Jonah: People are racist to us, so we can be racist to rangas.
Jonah: I wasn't the only ringleader; these boys were in it too.
- Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Jonah insists he is this, while continuing to misbehave at every opportunity.
- Pet the Dog: Mr. G's chihuahua is the only thing he loves almost as much as himself so much that after revealing she isn't dead but paralyzed, he manually helps her go the bathroom.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: All the characters have their prejudices. Ja'mie is classist and racist, especially towards Asians. It's Mr. G versus the mentally handicapped, the only group he's afraid to offend. And Jonah is a bully, who hates redheads.
- Precision F-Strike: Normally clean-mouthed Mr. G: "Thank God you're here. Where have you been, bitch?"
- Rage Breaking Point: Jonah's English teacher eventually snaps in the final episode.
- Recurring Character: Mr G is one for Lilley overall- he first appeared in a sketch comedy show called Big Bite, which only had one season. Mr G was basically the same, a fundamentally screwed-up teacher.
- Rich Bitch: Ja'mie.
- Shock Value Relationship: Ja'mie attempts this by asking a lesbian girl to the dance. Said girl is displeased to find out Ja'mie isn't really a lesbian.
- Shota Con: Ja'mie is initially very attracted to a boy several years younger and several feet shorter then her.
- Shout-Out: Ja'mie is "the youngest person to be nominated for 'Australian of the Year'", something that Lilley tried to do as a joke.
- Specifically, it's a Shout-Out to "We Can Be Heroes", Liley's previous mockumentary which introduced Ja'mie.
- Similarly Named Works: One of Mr. G's early works was called Cats.
- After Annabelle's death:
Mr G: She was into the boys in a big way. She was what the kids would call a slut, which is a terrible thing to say about someone who's just died. But apparently there's no denying that she was one.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Raging narcissists Ja'mie and Mr. G.
- The Snark Knight: Mr. G.
I'm always joking with the principal. I always say to Margaret, "You've got yourself an entertainment industry professional for the price of a teacher. So where's my pay rise?"
- Spoiled Brat: Ja'mie treats her doting mother like dirt, screaming at her and making threats until she gets her way.
- Stylistic Suck: Mr. G's self-written musicals.
- Teens Are Monsters
- 10-Minute Retirement: Mr. G resigns after enduring too much "abuse" (read: sensible management of school priorities) from the principal.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: All three.
- Many found Jonah to be very sympathetic, which makes the last episode very hard to watch.
- Again, it depends on whether you attend(ed) high school in Australia, especially one with a high Torres Strait/Tongan/Solomon Islands population.
- The level at which Jonah was portrayed sympathetically varied from episode to episode. Most people can't help feeling bad for him in the last episode, but the episode where he's given a Year 7 buddy really makes him look like a Jerkass.
- Upper-Class Twit: Ja'mie is a rich, privleged, superficial airhead, who is book-smart at best.
- With Friends Like These...: Ja'mie has no respect for her public school Girl Posse, who she regards as bogans. She even got caught out with a photo of them with unflattering captions she added, calling them fat, stupid and poor.
- Yandere: Ja'mie becomes very upset when she believes her younger "boyfriend" is
cheating talking to someone else and steals his phone.