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Series / We Can Be Heroes

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We Can Be Heroes: Finding The Australian of the Year was the first mockumentary series by Australian comedian Chris Lilley. The show follows five fictional regional nominees for the Australian of the Year Award (a real award which is a very big deal in Australia), all played by Lilley:

  • Ja'mie King, a schoolgirl who sponsors 85 children in a poor African village.
  • Pat Mullins, a housewife with one leg shorter than the other, which has inspired her to roll long distances for charity.
  • Phil Olivetti, a former fireman who achieved fleeting fame when he rescued a group of children from a flyaway bouncy castle, and hopes to use this to start a career as motivational speaker.
  • Daniel Sims, a teenage farmer who is donating an eardrum to enable his deaf twin Nathan (also played by Lilley) to hear again.
  • Ricky Wong, a high-achieving physics PhD student whose real passion is acting.

Tropes in We Can Be Heroes:

  • Alpha Bitch: Ja'mie King, to a tee.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A fraternal version when Nathan thanks Daniel for his eardrum.
  • Bribe Backfire: Phil Olivetti attempts to impress a member of the nominating committee by wining and dining him and his wife, and after that doesn't go well, resorting to offering him money. He is the only one of the five main characters not to get onto his regional shortlist.
  • Breakout Character: The Sims boys turned up again in Angry Boys, but the show's true breakout character is Ja'mie, who went on to feature in Summer Heights High and her own series, and is probably Lilley's most famous character.
  • Cultural Cringe: Well, yeah. It's Chris Lilley's stock-in-trade, after all. The series pokes a lot of fun at Australian stereotypes and the whole notion of the "Australian of the Year" award. Even the theme song is a choir singing (exquisitely) the phrase "G'day, G'day!" over and over.
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  • Gilligan Cut: Learning that her pen pal refugee Sonali came to Australia and was currently housed in a detention center, Ja'mie is reluctant to visit her. The following scene, Ja'mie is told by the school principal that she's going to the detention center - due to potentially being good exposure for the school.
    Ja'mie: I'll tell you now, there's no way I am going to the detention center. Like, no way.
  • Informed Attribute: Since Chris Lilley is never going to look like a glamorous teenage girl, Ja'mie's supposed beauty ends up as a combination of this and Refuge in Audacity.
  • It's All About Me: Both Ja'mie and Phil. It's no coincidence that they're the two most horrible people, and the two who really want to win the award.
  • It's Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Ja'mie King, pronounced Jah-may.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Phil Olivetti claims to have damaged his right wrist in the bouncy castle incident and gives a demonstration of how it doesn't bend back fully anymore. But even within the same scene he's using it normally with no trouble at all. This appears to have been the basis for a compensation claim, the proceeds of which paid for his home entertainment system.
  • Killed Off for Real: Pat Mullins' cancer returns and the epilogue reveals that she died soon after the filming of the show.
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: Australian Of The Year is a real award, and even being on a state's shortlist is a big deal.
  • Reality Ensues: Ultimately, none of the nominees make it onto the final shortlist; the shortlist announced in the show is the real one for the 2005 award.
  • Stylistic Suck: The musical Indigeridoo starring Ricky Wong. The songs are catchy but the whole show - a history of the indigenous Australians put on by a group of Chinese students - is spectacularly ill-conceived.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Ja'mie's charity work is actually quite laudable, it's just her Slave to PR motives and Jerkass attitude that mark her out as dislikeable.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The final section of the last episode picks up three months after the final shortlist is announced.

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