When it comes to comedy, mockumentaries are one of my favourite styles. From Little Britain and Come Fly With Me through to Who Is America and Borat, this play on exaggerated stereotypes in the modern world never fails to make for an amusing and highly enjoyable watch. Step forward Chris Lilley, who returns to the small screen with his latest 10-part mockumentary series, Lunatics. Following the lives of six eccentric personalities, Lunatics ticks off all the usual tropes you’d expect in this genre with just enough charisma and larger-than-life personalities to make for an enjoyable ride in the process.
After an opening episode used to introduce the six different personalities, the rest of the series is used to showcase a deeper storyline as these characters all progress toward a finale which jumps forward six months to catch up on the progress they’ve all made in their life. Each episode cuts continuously between the various characters too with a real progression for each of the six showcased.
The main characters of the show include fashion wannabe and cash register lover Keith adjusting to life outside his comfort zone. 7 foot 3 Becky begins life in college and all the challenges that brings whilst obnoxious child heir Gavin is destined to become Earl to an estate, moving out to the country to try and learn the ways of royalty. Incompetent real estate agent Quentin dreams of one day becoming a DJ whilst hoarder and ex adult-movie star Joyce revels in her clutter. Rounding out the six characters is my personal favourite, South African pet psychic Jana who claims to be able to speak to animals and, in particular, animals belonging to celebrities.
Whilst the characters themselves may not be as strong as some of Chris’ previous work, there’s enough here to make for a really funny and amusing mockumentary nonetheless. Of course, with any comedy project the humour is subjective and if you’ve never been a fan of this documentary format, blending larger than life personalities with societal issues, then this is unlikely to change your mind either. Lunatics is a show that knows exactly what it wants to be and never tries to be anything else. It’s an honest, good old-fashioned mockumentary that certainly does well to showcase Chris Tilley to a larger audience.
It’s worth noting that given the nature of this series and the number of episodes on offer, Lunatics isn’t an easy show to binge through. To really savour the comedy, it’s easier to dip in and out of this one, watching a few episodes here and there rather than trying to plough through the whole thing in one sitting. Given the recurring characters, to really savour the jokes and maximise the comedic impact it’s definitely advised to watch it in this way.
It won’t be for everyone but if you’re a fan of this style of comedy, there’s a surprising amount of charisma and character work put into each of these stories making it well worth checking out. The series goes on for just the right length too although by the end some of the recurring characters do feel like they’ve been well worn-out for jokes. Still, it’s a minor point in an otherwise highly enjoyable comedy series and it’s one I’d certainly recommend checking out.
Verdict - 7/10