TV

The ABC’s ‘At Home Alone Together’ Is Exactly The Absurd Nonsense We Need In Isolation

A lifestyle show for a world in which nobody has a life.

At Home Alone Together

The ABC has premiered its new comedy-lifestyle show, At Home Alone Together, designed specifically for getting through the COVID-19 pandemic — and it’s so funny and weird.

Billed as “a lifestyle show for a world in which nobody has a life”, the show follows the fairly standard format and filming of an Aussie lifestyle show, like Better Homes or Burke’s Backyard, which is immediately recognisable, and easily turned into comedy.

One of the best parts of the show is that it doesn’t have to hinge too much of its comedy on topical subjects (apart from like, the pandemic obviously), like a lot of Aussie comedy is forced to, and instead gets to wallow in some truly beautiful absurdity.

Over the first episode, we are taught how to make a DIY sauna, we get an ad for bleach (it whitens and cleans things… that’s all it does), a segment on spicing up the bedroom with Harry Potter roleplay that stays true to the books, and some truly upsetting jokes about soapy pockets. It all hits really well.

Two of my favourites were a segment with actor Björn Stewart, who teaches a foraging cooking lesson, and slowly and hilariously poisons himself. It could be such an obvious joke, but we’re allowed to truly linger in the discomfort of watching someone try to soldier through the segment while their throat swells up, and Stewart masterfully sells the physical performance.

Anne Edmond’s Helen Bidou also has a wonderfully deranged segment about keeping yourself busy in isolation, that climaxes with a absolute banger of a song, and it hits with all the manic energy you expect from her. It’s very funny — but what also struck me is that her energy is not a noticeable departure from the rest of the show, but is rather matched by everyone else. What a gift!

The show is hosted by beloved national treasure Ray Martin, and manages to turn his presence into an extremely dry and funny running gag, essentially.

“The magic of live theatre, something we’ve had to learn to do without…” he tells us, looking dryly into the camera. “Pretty easy as it turns out”

In the press release, Ray Martin said“I’ve worked in journalism for over 50 years, but it’s always been my dream to front a lifestyle show. 60 Minutes was all well and good, but it never gave me an opportunity to build a pergola.”

Talking to Junkee, At Home Alone Together showrunner Dan Ilic said the show aims to “not only make dumb jokes to give people at home a laugh, but also use the fast sketch format to say something about Australian media, and society, at the same time. Most of all we hope to be funny.”

It’s a pretty interesting challenge to create an entirely new TV show during a pandemic which famously forbids people being together. I asked Dan about the kind of hurdles the show has had to jump in order to get the show up.

“We produce this show from our bedrooms over Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. It’s going okay — better than I thought — we’re working at a frenetic pace from 9am-10pm most nights. At Home Alone Together is the best case study for the IPA to say that the ABC should sell their buildings.

The biggest challenge we have as a team is post production — moving large files of raw TV rushes around is slow work over the internet — if only we had some kind of fibre network of broadband nationally that could cope with data loads needed to make a TV.”

Dan says that we can look forward to more absurd ideas coming up as the show continues.

“We’re constantly pitching to Ray Martin ideas to ruin his career and legacy — he’s agreed to do everything so far.” So that’s exciting.

At Home Alone Together is on ABC iView, new episodes dropping on Wednesday nights.