Matt Okine’s The Other Guy is the best new Australian comedy series in years and succeeds, where countless others have failed, in being warm, tender television for the millennial generation.
Though written by two of Australia’s best stand-up comedians (Okine and Becky Lucas), it is, admittedly, not a gut buster. The show might be better described as a drama with some A-grade jokes peppered in.
Okine stars as AJ, a Sydney breakfast radio presenter who discovers he’s been cuckolded by his best friend. The series is closely modeled on Okine’s own life, and his confessional stand-up show of same name. One wonders at first why he has bothered with a fake nomenclature, but as AJ’s drinking and depression spirals out of control, it’s clear that the decision to separate fiction from memoir has been a good one. This isn’t Seinfeld — Okine has written a deeply flawed character for himself.
The series kicks off right in the middle of things; before the first episode begins AJ has already uncovered the affair. His now ex-partner of ten years Olivia (Rogue One’s Valene Kane) remains in the picture, and the recently separated couple fumble through attempts at reconciliation. The reverberations of the infidelity wreak havoc in AJ’s life. His work suffers, much to the chagrin of his radio co-host (SBS’s Michael Hing), and his friendships are tested. Harriet Dyer, who play’s AJ’s housemate and features as the series’ comic relief, is a revelation. She steals every scene she’s in — especially the episode that tackles gambling addiction. Even if The Other Guy was entirely without other meritorious qualities, the presence of Dyer alone would demand your attention.
Most episodes also feature fantastic off-beat one-off characters. The depressed loner at the resort is a highlight, as is stand-up Dane Hiser as the mattress salesman who prefers to sleep on a couch. Best of all is MC Briggs, who plays a violent yet well meaning Instagram troll, and proves once again that he’s one of the best comic actors in the country.
The Other Guy should be welcomed by fans of other millennial comedies like Girls, Master of None, Love, and Please Like Me. Like those shows, the cinematography here is beautiful, and there’s the same preference for characters who seem ‘real’ and ‘gritty’, rather than a maximised joke-per-minute rate.
Millennials are stereotyped as a frivolous, superficial generation, but it is inescapable that the comedies they produce and adore are, by and large, depressing. The aforementioned shows, The Other Guy included, feature young urbanites growing into maturity in a world without a cohesive moral framework. Gone are the institutions and prejudices which (though repressive) gave life meaning and direction. These characters aren’t just ‘figuring their lives out’ — they’re figuring out what a life is itself supposed to be.
The Other Guy is different to its predecessors, however, in that it is better. Critics have noted that the show is especially indebted to Josh Thomas’ Please Like Me — and, indeed, there are many similarities. But where Please Like Me, and so many other millennial comedies succumb to ennui and introspection, The Other Guy is bold throughout. It is also, occasionally, very funny indeed. Go watch it on Stan at your earliest convenience.
The Other Guy is now streaming on Stan.