Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Librarians

The Librarians:
Offbeat Comedy Aussie Style

In my travels around the globe via its television and movies, I've learned many things, and come across many different things that I really doubt most of the world would actually know about unless they went looking, I tend to call these things hidden gems or sorts, and like any good pirate, I have found myself a treasure trove of such gems. One of which is a small understated offbeat dark comedy from Australia, called The Librarians, its a comedy about the inner workings of two friends Francis O'Brien and Christine Grimwood, and how no matter what one does, the other is constantly ruining her life. As told through current time and flashbacks, you discover just how deep and complicated at times, their life is, and though you know you shouldn't, you can't help but laugh at it all. After all, in the words of the great sage Homer Jay Simpson "Its funny because its not me". We all secretly like to laugh at when bad things happen to bad people, and though its truly Christine's fault the Francis turned out as bad as she did, even if it was with out Christine's knowledge, the fact remains, they're both bad people, and we all, deep down like to laugh at the misfortunes of bad people. Its that dark little place inside of all of us that this show aims its humor at, and though I'm not sure many pick up on that at first, it most certainly hits its mark dead on the bulls eye.

Set at a public library in Melton, Victoria, Australia, a city just outside of Melbourne, you discover that its not only Francis that has issues at her place of work, though hers tend to get in the way of others, you discover that really its everyone. Dawn, the now crippled assistant head librarian who can't seem to drive her wheelchair right. Matthew their resident book stacker who believes himself to be the greatest writer in the world. Nada the local translator and culture specialist, its strongly implied that Frances doesn't like her because she's arabic. Ky the token super gay asian. Lachie, a dyslexic underwear model who was hired to work the front desk in the first series and leaves to model in the second, Francis has a huge crush on him and you find out, that crush is the reason Dawn's crippled. And finally Neil, Neil is a criminal ordered to do community service by helping out at the library, he tends to just float around, not doing much of anything at all, he takes a romantic interest in Christine when she arrives, even though she states to him many times she has no real interest in him, he still continues to do good things for her, even at one point violating his sentence for her. Other members of the cast are Francis' confusing and sexually repressed husband Tom, who has a rather big masterbation addiction, Father Harris, a preist who Francis confides in, though he wishes he would just leave him alone, and though they are never actually seen, Tom and Francis' horribly daughters, who happen to be referred to as holy terrors, having been kicked out of every private school in the area. Francis has a rather loose grip on all of these factors and people and she feels she's doing a good job until Christine shows up and begs her for a job, which Francis eventually gives her out of pity, and how long she's known her.

Though the plot and subplots twist around everyone involved, normally filling in some backstory that happened before the main story, but it all centers around Francis and Christine, each episode fills in abit of their backstory and how what started out as just an innocent friendship became a horribly traumatic downward spiral into the life Francis feels she has no choice but to live now, how she was forced to pay for a mistake that Christine had made when they were in their late teens, and how that lead to Francis' marriage, which actually trapped her and her husband, and the downward slide into unhappiness that each of their children's birth pushed them toward. But through it all, even if they do not wish to admit it, they are friends, and infact the only one that each other can rely on. They grudgingly admit this at the end of the second series when Christine gives birth to a baby she had with her imprisoned for selling drugs former boyfriend, the episode that has them both screaming about everything wrong they've ever done to each other and why they blame one another for where they are in life. Its actually both heartwarming and funny all at once.

I understand that alot of people might not fully get this series, like i said, its a dark comedy that allows us to laugh at the horrible things that happen to people that are horrible to each other, something that not many programs are willing to do, but they do it with ease. Its also a great introduction to the seldom mentioned genre of Australian/New Zealand comedy, which isn't as watered down as american comedy, or have the subtle and sharp wit that British and Canadian comedy has, its kind of a hodgepodge of all of them in a way, the out and out laughs of american, the subtle and sharp of British and Canadian and just enough blunt sarcasm to make it unique, its truly something all its own, and I honestly love that. I know alot of people won't get the references unless you know people from Oz or the surrounding areas there in, but if you pay attention it won't be hard to figure out, plus its a rather dark bit of hilarity, so it won't matter much. So if you haven't had a chance, or you've never heard of it, give The Librarians a chance, and laugh at the bad that happens to bad people, even if the world thinks we shouldn't..



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