Chris Lilley - 'Summer Heights High', 2007
Note perfect, Summer Heights High searingly captures a slice of Australia’s psyche without mockery or judgement. It provides a sublime bridge between creator Chris Lilley’s sweet syrup of We Can Be Heroes and the more abrasive chip-on-shoulder of Angry Boys. Above all, it is funny. Show me any other short-run series that can simultaneously inspire sniggering teenagers to draw cocks on their backpacks and send menopausal women into sobbing spirals. Lilley dares to offer us flawed, self-involved, megalomaniac protagonists and then forces us to care for them – even to love them, in the long run. He marries the sort of jokes that have you looking at your companions in startled comradeship with beautiful, human storylines about love and loss and pain and hopelessness. Whatever you make of his more recent creative offerings (the vaguely controversial S.mouse giving faceless internet detractors something to bicker over for tedious months), Lilley’s is a carefully crafted, important, uniquely Australian voice. He knows us better than we know ourselves. I say we give him the key to the city and let him run wild.