HBO is no stranger to bringing the shock factor. The network certainly never minds a generous helping of nudity or violence, though the newest in the lineup, “Angry Boys,” displays an altogether different kind of bite.

Angry Boys

Pilot
Sundays at 10 p.m.
HBO


The series is the latest effort of Australian comedian Chris Lilley — who specializes in mockumentary style episodes — in which he introduces the audience to several of his characters, each more charmingly offensive than the last.

“Angry Boys” is no different, starting off right out of the gun with Daniel and Nathan Sims, delinquent twin boys living in rural Australia, and then moving on to their prison guard grandmother, who runs the show at a boy’s juvenile facility.

The twins and their grandmother, all played by Lilley, are awkwardly similar. Though some sameness is expected, there just isn’t enough variation — especially for a character-driven episodic series like this — to manufacture an easy shift from each scene to the next. The viewer may get tangled in the sameness of Lilley’s accent, which is largely unvaried between the different characters, or be confused by the seemingly random assortment of scenes.

While Lilley struggles a bit to bring range to his different disguises, it’s still fun to watch him parade around as Gran, the hamster-loving prison guard with a penchant for making Superman costumes and “gotcha!” jokes.

Yet what Lilley lacks in finesse, he more than makes up for in sheer lack of tact, seeming to relish every politically incorrect statement or not-so-subtle racial dig imaginable — all delivered in an impossibly smooth deadpan, leaving viewers choking on a laugh while at the same time wondering why they aren’t morally offended.

This flawless-yet-shameless delivery is where Lilley hits pay dirt and what prompts most of the humor. The characters of Nathan and Daniel also stand out, as the twins’ humor is so stunningly spot on. Though highly exaggerated, Daniel’s woes about his mother’s new “dickhead” boyfriend, his aggravation with his twin brother and his sheer boredom are entirely relatable, eliciting laughs at the utter truth of the whole thing.

The grandmother character hits a little below the mark, and though she may prompt more laughs, her antics are less-than-fresh. Though Gran leaves a little to be desired, Lilley certainly has plenty of other characters up his sleeve for awaiting episodes. In the second episode, viewers are treated to the rapper S.Mouse! Future episodes promise a whole host of other opportunities for Lilley to don one disguise after the next. As the episodes are only 30 minutes each, the show moves at a fast clip, and viewers won’t be stuck with any one character for very long.

Much like the British version of “The Office,” “Angry Boys” is abound with that brand of overseas humor — this time hailing from Australia — that can be enticing and off-putting to American viewers. Yet the series manages to be just funny enough to strike the right chord with Lilley’s foreign audience. And let’s not forget the Australian accent, automatically ratcheting the show up another notch, for no other reason than it’s fun to listen to.

No matter who’s watching, it’s no doubt Lilley has talent and knows how to use it. The recipient of multiple awards for his previous work, he’s obviously ready to spring his repertoire on the American public. So far, so good.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.