Words || Rayna Bland
Housos had me conflicted. The show is both a tad problematic and quite entertaining. If you’re not aware, Housos follows the lives of a group of rebellious, loud and at times vulgar group of friends. They all live in the fictitious Sunnydale where they get up no good antics and party hard. It is pretty fun. However, Housos depiction of people on the pension further contributes to a negative stereotype that people receiving the disability and payments alike are no good ‘dole bludgers’. There is also heavy drug, alcohol and gambling use depicted. The narrator of the show is always found at the pokies or the horse track. Oh and don’t forget the many explicit sex-scenes. Housos is definitely not for your underaged or uptight audience.
Despite the weird and vaguely offensive social overtones of the show, I can grant that the cast has amazing physical comedy. The slapstick humour is well timed and the caricatures the ensemble each play will have you laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. There is Shazza and Dazza. Shazza wears a patriotic Australia Day shirt, with her jeggings, grown out roots and uggs – oh and don’t forget the durry hanging out of her mouth! Her husband, Dazza wears a flanny vest, socks and thongs and bears the iconic Southern Cross tattoo. Dazza at one point hallucinates and receives guidance from Ned Kelly. These characters are founded in some truth. Some of my distant relatives dress and act a bit like Shazza and Dazza. However, the problematic representation occurs when Dazza deliberately tries to get the disability by inhaling some sort of household chemical up his nose. While the happenings of these shenanigans are entertaining to watch because it is ridiculous these narratives like this perpetuate the myth of the ‘dole bludgers’. Politicians capitalise on the public’s belief of this myth and use it in discourse to validate welfare underfunding and to justify letting Australian’s live in poverty. Totally not cool.
Frankie, a member of the Housos’ clan, finds himself in a massive police chase. The action and comedic value of the scene is great. The chase starts with Frankie revving his hot rodded and spray painted 90s car through the Sunnydale streets being chased by the coppers. The chase then shifts to on foot as Frankie begins to climb buildings and jump roof to roof. The slow and dim-witted cop following him then also had to clumsily jump roof to roof. It was awesome watching this, the production was very good and the scene was engaging. Oh and by the way, Frankie got away from the cops all the while wearing his footy shorts and thongs. Anti-police rhetoric is evident through the show. Frankie’s line in the show is “I don’t like authority!”. In one scene there is a riot in Sunnydale. A police car is shown burning as the angry residents throw bricks and yell at the officers. It is interesting watching this scene in 2020 in light of all of the riots in the United States. I stand with the Sunnydale residents because in all of the interactions seen in the show, the cops are dicks.
I think it is really nice that these Sydney actors had the opportunity to work locally on a fun show. One of the actresses, Kyla-Leigh was cast just at Penrith Plaza! One of the producers heard her talking to her friends and she was hired. You have to hear her voice. It is so high pitched. The cast overall works really well together and because of the success of this show some of them have gone on to continue to produce more Australian television which is great. If I was a Sydney actress I would have been thrilled to be on Housos.
Overall, Housos is alright. It isn’t for everyone. Some people will find it hilarious and others will take great offence. I am just glad we get to see a bit of Western Sydney on screen and I am glad it provides an opportunity for employment for Australian actors. The show is entertaining through the physical comedy and wacky scenarios the characters find themselves in. However, it is important to note that the caricatures the actors portray are just that – caricatures. They should not be reflective of what people on the pension are actually like. Overall, I am glad the show exists because it does highlight the social problems communities like Sunnydale face, it is entertaining and it provides an opportunity for local Sydney actors to work.