Everyone was pretty excited when it was announced that Chris Lilley was bringing out a brand-new Netflix series. However, it seems that the Summer Heights High magic has long disappeared. With a 6.6/10 on IMDb, it’s definitely not his best work.
Although it looks like things may be about to get even worse for the actor, as he could be facing legal action over one of the characters.
One of the characters, Becky Douglas, is an extremely tall girl who has a twin sister of average stature. They’re both heading to university for the first time, and Becky decides to start up a YouTube channel.
However, a lot of fans have pointed out that the character bears a striking resemblance to the leading character in a 2012 comedy skit by Australian YouTuber, Hamish Williams.
The skit, named ‘The World’s Tallest Girl’ featured a girl called Sheridan Belvedere who did a video giving insights into the life of someone extremely tall. The joke was that her bottom half is actually a bloke.
Check it out for yourself…
One fan wrote on Twitter: “Very excited for #Lunatics, but that clip in the trailer of the really tall girl limboing under the door frame really reminds me of something..? Let us never forget this iconic video.”
Speaking to News.com.au on Thursday, The World’s Tallest Girl skit creator Hamish said: “I’m not going to lie, I looked it up straight away and was like, ‘What the hell? This is kind of actually like… some of the shots are shot for shot’,
“The mannerisms of her and going under the doorway and I think she mentioned that she had an internet persona about her, which I believe in the original Sheridan (video) she talks about being famous online as well,
“I’ve been considering legal advice or legal action,
“Here I am trying to have a similar career to him and then for him to come along and pinch ideas, that’s probably the most frustrating part of all… Even if it doesn’t go on TV, even if it’s just for YouTube, I still put a lot of effort in.”
This comes after Lilley faced criticism regarding another of his Lunatics characters, Jana.
In the series, she’s featured talking in a South African accent and sporting a large Afro. It didn’t take long for people to voice their concerns about racial stereotyping online.
I also used to defend Chris Lilley for doing brownface and blackface, I am fully admitting that, but I’ve grown as a person and realised that it’s never okay and makes a mockery of multiple marginalised groups.— Nicola ER (@nick_e_louder) April 11, 2019
I haven’t seen his new show. I can’t judge it yet but Chris Lilley’s twitter page still sports pictures of his blackface characters.— Jordan Raskopoulos (@JordanRasko) April 11, 2019
I’m pretty sure the dude hasn’t grown. pic.twitter.com/8iNWiLQeKD
to be fair, blackface isn’t the only thing chris lilley does— stuffed-crust punk (@edpity) April 11, 2019
he also does brownface, and makes jokes at the expense of the lgbt and those with mental disabilities
Chris Lilley: I need six characters in my new show. Blackface, big-ass guy (hilarious), fashion mogul, making fun of disabled people, hating women, teens say LIT a lot— RELICS: A GAME OF ANGELS – On Kickstarter Now (@tinstargames) April 11, 2019
POC: Could you maybe do FIVE of them and not the blackface?
Imagine getting a shot to redeem yourself after years of blackface on camera and racism on social media, and then just doubling down with more blackface and shit jokes https://t.co/MGvMGTyM4V— Sally Rugg (@sallyrugg) April 11, 2019
This is kinda embarrassing. What year is this?— MEGADUD (@bnjmnshw) April 11, 2019
By providing a platform for Chris Lilley’s blackface bonanza, #NetflixANZ is also supporting white supremacy. By continuing your subscription to Netflix, *YOU* are supporting white supremacy.— Scott Trindall (@ScottTrindall) April 11, 2019
Some addressed their concerns to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, while another outraged Netflix viewer vowed to cancel their subscription.
The show’s description reveals a little more of what it’s about: “The documentary examines the lives of six extraordinary individuals and explores the idea that people are not what they seem at first.”
“Through documentary interviews, self recorded and fly on the wall footage the six intriguing subjects are observed over a period of months. Their stories unfold with hilarious results. As eccentric and odd as they all are, they are scarily recognisable types and they teach us that its ok to just be you.”
In the past, Lilley has been called out for blackface. Arguably his best work was the short-lived Summer Heights High, however, his portrayal of a 13-year-old Tongan called Jonah Takalua raised a few eyebrows. Later, Lilley again donned blackface to play rapper S.mouse in Angry Boys — it was also here that Lilley caused a stir for playing an uptight Japanese mother.
Although Jonah-centric spin-off Jonah From Tonga was scrapped from Maori TV for cultural insensitivity, television critic Michael Idato said Jonah was “well on the way to becoming the voice of his generation.” Neither Netflix nor Lilley have passed comment on the latest debacle yet, so fans will have to wait and see if Lunatics will continue to be a race issue.