The most manipulative, rude, obnoxious, self-centred, ignorant, conniving, abusive and vulgar character on television is back. Infamous for appearances in We Can Be Heroes, and cult series Summer Heights High, Ja’mie King has returned, and this time she’s back at Hillford Girls Grammar School; A Private School Girl.
The first episode reintroduces her character; a 17-year-old girl living in the Sydney suburbs. Having ditched her friend Brianna because she “got fat”, Ja’mie is School Captain, and is constantly surrounded by a group of prefect acolytes whose soul purpose is to tell her how beautiful and talented she is.
At its best, the episode is hilariously entertaining. Chris Lilley has taken a safe route with Ja’mie, but it’s a route that works and provides great content. From the extended goodbyes where she ridiculously tells her friends “I love you, I love you sooo much, ILY!” to the moments where she describes new crush Mitchell as “quiche” (“Like, hotter than hot” – sure to become part of the British lexicon) the episode is laugh out loud funny.
However, at its worst, this show teeters on the edge of being perhaps uncomfortable to watch. While mixed reviews in the Australian press picked up on how the episode failed to cover new ground with little development of Ja’mie’s character, it feels more like her persona has changed slightly by becoming even more bitchy, to be even more scandalous. The stand-out painful moment comes when Ja’mie approaches the “boarders” who she has a particular loathing for and has a slagging-match throwing insult after insult. It’s a scene which almost feels too oppressive, but the ridiculous scenes that proceed the incident as Ja’mie attempts to charm Kelton Grammar student Mitchell soon alleviate any tension.
Of course it’s a brave move to focus a whole series on one comedy character, with Chris Lilley’s other series’ featuring several personas throughout. To take a character who has been on television in two other programmes, and develop her into something which people won’t lose interest in across six episodes is no mean feat. The introduction of a new school setting, new friends, and her family life certainly offers scope for exploration, and despite the slightly risqué moments, I can’t help but still find Ja’mie hilarious. Lilley plays the character brilliantly and from this episode it seems there is significant scope for a storyline which won’t see audiences get tired of high school hierarchies and teenage bitching.
Ja’mie may be delusionally egotistic and grossly spoiled, but there’s something so very watchable and believable about the emotional roller-coaster she is set to experience in her last few weeks in school, as she attempts to win the school’s prestigious Hillford Medal. If you were a fan of Ja’mie from Summer Heights, this episode will indulge you in her ridiculous private school life, and continue to entertain with her outrageous behaviour. Perhaps this series won’t reach the hilarious heights of Summer Heights but it’s certainly a lot better than Angry Boys.
Ja’mie: Private School Girl airs on Thursdays at 10pm on BBC Three.