The return of Aussie acting icon Rachel Griffiths to local TV has helped create buzz around SBS’ ambitious new crime drama Dead Lucky – but the response has been tepid to say the least, with some critics slamming the show.
The first episode earned an audience of 234,000, and WHO’s Binge List podcast hosts Gavin Scott, Clare Ridgen and Matthew Denby have joined the chorus of contention surrounding the show. While they had differing views on the quality of the drama, all three agreed on one thing – Dead Lucky contains one of the worst TV characters in a long time.
Actress Justine Clarke is lumbered with the unenviable task of bringing life and credibility to the over-the-top character of Erica Hodge – an obnoxious, insensitive and painfully bourgeois convenience store owner who is as greedy as she is casually racist.
‘I hate bagging out on locally produced shows, but I really didn’t enjoy this,’ Clare says of her feelings about the show. ‘There’s just something about the script of this show that just doesn’t ring true.
‘Some of the lines and the way they were delivered just really grated on me.
‘Justine’s character is this really annoying bogan. None of it felt true to me, although I get what they were trying to do.
‘This was not particularly well executed.’
Although Gavin didn’t feel as negatively towards the show in general, he agreed the character of Erica was pantomime-ridiculous.
‘I thought Justine Clarke’s character was bloody awful,’ he explained to Binge List listeners. ‘It is awful, annoying, unrealistic.
‘The lines she is given to speak – who says that? It just doesn’t seem real.’
At one point, Erica is shown storming into her convenience store after a traumatic armed robbery, spitting venom at her illegally underpaid immigrant shop worker Manny.
‘How much did you give him?’ she rages at the traumatised character. ‘You gave him everything didn’t you?
‘I thought you people were used to guns?’
Erica is later seen complaining, cartoon villain-style, to her husband that the criminally low wages they pay their employees should be dropped even further.
While Matt was a lot more complimentary about the show – praising it for moments of suspense, its generally strong depiction of women and the ethnic diversity of its cast, he agreed that the character of Erica was distractingly silly.
‘You’ve got to take the good with the bad and there is a bit of bad here, but I’m not going to damn the whole show because of it,’ he explained.
‘I didn’t like the convenience store woman, I thought she was a ridiculous caricature.
‘I know she was there to present a message about racism and unbridled capitalism, but that character was about as subtle as a brick in the face. It was really quite silly.’
While Clare says she won’t be watching again and Gavin is indifferent, Matt says he’ll be tuning in next week, praising the script for its moments of tension.
You can listen to the full discussion on Binge List – out now. Details below...