Ja’mie: Private School Girl ~ A Capsule Review by Allen Kopp
Ja’mie: Private School Girl is an unusual comedy series from Australia, on American TV via HBO. Ja’mie (pronounced Jah-MAY) lives with her well-to-do family in a spacious house in Sydney, Australia, but the series revolves around her life at her exclusive girls’ school, called Hillford. (The school for boys, Kelton, is nearby.) Ja’mie is the most popular girl at Hillford and a student leader. She surrounds herself with a veritable Greek chorus of squealing sycophants, enablers, and hangers-on. (Whenever any of Ja’mie’s group must part, they declare their undying love for each other.) Ja’mie’s best friend is a gay boy named Cody who attends Kelton. Since Cody does not have access to a dance class at Kelton, he is allowed to take dance with the girls at Hillford.
Ja’mie has her sights set on the “Hillford medal,” an honor to be given to one girl in the graduating class who “demonstrates Christian values.” She brings a Ugandan boy named Kwami into her home to live with her and her family to show what a caring, compassionate person she is. We (the audience) know what her underlying motive is, if nobody else does.
As accomplished, ambitious, and talented as Ja’mie is (she dances, writes music, and sings), she has another side to her. She is cruel to her mousey mother and her younger sister and to anybody else she doesn’t like. She calls her chief rival for the Hillford medal a “fat, dumb, lesbian bitch.” When she believes that one of her “besties,” a girl named Madison, has stolen her supposed boyfriend, Mitchell, she is more than willing to resort to flying fists. Madison is ostracized from the “in” crowd until she comes to her senses and realizes that stealing Mitchell from Ja’mie is just not worth all the trouble.
In addition to her other traits, Ja’mie is supremely confident and believes she is the most attractive girl in school, but the truth is that she is sort of funny-looking. When one of her enemies calls her “horse face,” we have to agree. She is angular in her school uniform, her legs are bony, and she has small breasts, which, she says, are a result of an eating disorder. She has long, dark hair that she constantly flips or pushes out of her face. If you haven’t guessed by now, Ja’mie is played by a man, Chris Lilley, who created and wrote the series. A narcissistic teenage girl being played so well by a man is the irony of the show and what makes it so much fun to watch. Would I want to watch it if Ja’mie was played by a seventeen-year-old of the female gender? I wouldn’t waste my time.
Copyright © 2013 by Allen Kopp