Summer Heights High | Variety Review

One newspaper dubbed Chris Lilley "Australia's answer to Ricky Gervais" -- a comparison that, alas, is funnier than almost anything in this mockumentary fished up from Down Under. Lilley not only created the show but stars as the three central characters in this eight-episode look at a year-in-the-life of a public high school, the twist being that it mixes actors with actual students and teachers to construct the would-be hilarity. Cultural distinctions notwithstanding (will U.S. viewers double over at a Tongan accent?), "Summer Heights High" seldom rises above silliness and mostly proves just plain irritating.

Granted, annoyance is the primary emotion Lilley yearns to invoke, building the action around a trio of tone-deaf personalities that he plays: Mr. G, a flamboyant drama teacher, who creates an original musical based on a school tragedy; Jonah, a Pacific Islander punk with a surly attitude, who mutters garbled obscenities at teachers under his breath; and Ja'mie, a spoiled private-school girl reluctantly transplanted to SHH, who endeavors to fall in with the popular kids but regularly insults them along with everyone else.

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