‘Get Krack!n’ Is The Perfect Antidote To Trashfire Breakfast TV Like ‘Sunrise’
“I’m old, I’m rich, this doesn’t affect me, I’m furious."
The relentlessly cheerful, one-dimensional view of life offered by Australian morning television is one based on denial: denial of the reality of bodies, of bigotry, and of racism, and it’s a denial that is perfectly depicted by Get Krack!n, which has just finished its second and final season on ABC.
The last few years have offered a number of examples of the aura of niceness slipping from breakfast TV’s mask to reveal the privilege and social division that is so often glossed over and simplified for the benefit of ratings.
Karl Stefanovic used the t-slur on-air before offering a heartfelt apology (which led him to getting an award for being ‘a good ally’). Sunrise held a debate on whether or not Indigenous children should be removed from their parents. Yumi Stynes was hounded when she called out Kerri-Anne Kennerly’s racism during a discussion on Invasion Day.
Get Krack!n’ perfectly satirises these moments by expertly mimicking the reality festering at the core of these shows — like when the Kates cheerfully acknowledged that, while they don’t endorse the white supremacy and misogyny of their guests, they are certainly complicit in allowing them to air.
It’s nothing we haven’t already seen on shows like Sunrise, Today or Studio 10 — the line between absurdity and reality is razor thin, and Get Krack!n walks it perfectly. It’s why it’s such whip-smart parody.
Sunrise Is Very Bad
In one of the show’s highlights, the Kates are paired off with the misogynist character of Brendan O’ Hara, in an episode where each of the deeply uncomfortable remarks made by him were taken from actual comments the Kates have encountered in real life.
— Get Krack!n (@getkrackinshow) March 13, 2019
The show’s most reliable joke plays on the myriad ways breakfast television simplifies and glosses over the pain of existing in our current chaotic cultural moment (Kurrent Kultural Kaotic moment) with cheers, smiles, and an aversion to anything too controversial.
Rather than wilfully ignoring bigotry, as breakfast television tries to do, Get Krack!n’ lingers on it, making for truly awkward, painful and incisive comedy.
Kheck out our brand new seggment! #getkrackin[Full ep here! https://iview.abc.net.au/show/get-krack-n/series/2/video/CO1715V005S00]
Posted by Get Krackin on Thursday, 7 March 2019
This is exemplified by the “knews ticker” that runs at the bottom of the screen, delivering such gems as ‘Justk in: The Boys Are Back In Town, Unfortunately,’ ‘Koming Up: We Sample All of Human Experience Like It’s Our Personal Cheeseboard!’ And ‘Knews: Mother Drafts U.N. Strategy On Phone While Her Kid Has Swimming Lesson.’
The surrealist jokes played at the bottom of the screen are a perfect satire of the way breakfast TV unwittingly juxtaposes upsetting bad news with whatever banal cheeriness they happen to be talking about at the time.
The real world continues to crash into Get Krack!n, sometimes literally, such as when a style guru’s exhibition of a ‘glamping tableau’ is interrupted by a truck crashing into the tent, and sometimes it’s a dead possum on the set. They are absurd moments, but it’s eerie how familiar the details are — they’re so close to what we see every day on breakfast TV, just with the volume turned up to 11.
Youth Knews: the sea levels are rising and so are they #ClimateStrike
Posted by Get Krackin on Friday, 15 March 2019
The Kates Themselves
Much of the show’s brilliance rests on the performances of its hosts, Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan, together known as The Kates.
Both demonstrate a remarkable ability to shift from being the butt of the joke to figures of sympathy, depending on the occasion. Their characters are bound by the culture (kulture?) of the show, even as they perpetuate it.
McLennan again and again shows an uncanny ability to play a (slightly) heightened version of a breakfast television host, while McCartney plays her subdued foil, occasionally showing guilt at being part of such a train wreck, but never quite doing anything to change it.
The show’s guest stars also shine: Kate Mulvany turns up to drag approaches to chronic illness to hell. There’s also the unforgettable Helen Bidou, played by Anne Edmonds, who turned up in Season 1 to show off some sarongs she bought in Bali, and quickly proceeded to make both Kates seem well-adjusted by comparison thanks to a series of mad cackles and dildo chase across the studio. In Season 2 she returned with a pitch-perfect parody of the infomercials that take up so much space on morning TV.
SHE'S BAAAAAACKKKKKKK! ABC TV + iview! Tonight! 9pm!
Posted by Get Krackin on Tuesday, 26 February 2019
The Kates don’t have to do much to accurately lampoon the kinds of people we see on breakfast television. A perfect example is in the segment ‘Kunts for Klicks‘, billed as “the time honoured breakfast TV tradition of adding hysteria to a non-issue of the day”, in which a trio of guests discuss the latest hot topic. The format is immediately and depressingly recognisable from Australian TV.
In Kunts for Klicks, we get: “Convicted white supremacist” Coby Boyle, “government-pension funded troll” Bill Langham, and “Unemployed right-wing firebrand” Tikki Cheeseman.
“I’m old, I’m rich, this doesn’t affect me, I’m furious,” Cheeseman rants, before walking off the set.
It’s More Than Just A Mirror
Nowhere else have I seen such searing and honest insight into the current state-of-play of Australian disability rights than the episode set during ‘International Day of People With Disability Day.’
The episode should be required viewing for anyone entering a career in disability work. It attacks well-meaning but superficial advocacy attempts, the wellness industry, misunderstandings of chronic pain, and the government’s failed attempts at creating sustainable welfare options for disabled people.
The parody is even more powerful because it uses actual disabled people, both in the writing and in the acting.
In the episode, The Kates have a moment of existential crisis when faced with a disabled person who seems pretty mundane, a riff on the many ways disabled people are idealised as inspiring for the benefit of able-bodied people.
TONIGHT! 9pm! ABC TV + iview!It's Get Krack!n’s International Day of People Living with a Disability Day Day! Meet Tania!
Posted by Get Krackin on Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Good satire isn’t just an imitation, it makes a statement about the subject it mimics, and pushes for a change, a transformation.
Get Krack!n never shies away from pushing an agenda, and the silliness and absurdity of the show’s sketches often only thinly veils very real frustration and anger with the state of affairs in Australia.
You only need to look at the final episode of season 2.
Actress Miranda Tapsell and playwright Nakkiah Lui, who guest host on the show (and are both credited with writing on the episode) rise to the occasion, taking the opportunity to represent Australia’s Aboriginal population — an opportunity rarely given on actual breakfast TV.
Both of them try to bear with the indignities faced regularly by women of colour on Australian television, including a ‘mud room’ that has colonial maps as decoration, and a bleach salesperson whose litany of praise for whiteness ends in a request for support for the ‘United White Front’ at the next federal election.
— Get Krack!n (@getkrackinshow) March 28, 2019
The last barrier to be broken is the ironic nature of the show itself: after dealing with three racist talking heads, Tapsell brings the jokes to a halt and delivers a searing monologue about anti-blackness in Australia. She then starts tearing up the set. As Tapsell destroys the set, Lui stares into the camera and delivers a monologue, sending Aboriginal people and settlers the message that her statements about race in Australia are not made in anger, but because she knows “the greatness we are capable of, together.”
Afterwards, Tapsell stares at the camera and yells “Sovereignty was never ceded!” before throwing an urn labelled ‘Australian Television’ (the date of death is the day Sunrise debated Indigenous child removal) into the glass door of the set.
“Let’s go to Sunrise and fuck their shit up!” she screams. It’s hard to recall any Australian television show ending on a better note.
TONIGHT! It’s a very special very finale very last ever episode of Get Krack!n. But where are the Kates? And why are the far more talented @nakkiahlui and @missmirandatap hosting the show? Watkh and find outk! @ABCTV! 9pm! #getkrackin pic.twitter.com/FOrxcvHl9Z
— Get Krack!n (@getkrackinshow) March 27, 2019
Breakfast TV and the shallow, bigoted, and conservative worldview it represents and perpetuates could not be more rightfully criticised. Get Krack!n’s bullet-precise skewering of this most beloved genre of television secures the show’s place in comedy history as a revolutionary satire.
Cameron Colwell is a writer of stories and criticism. He tweets at @CEColwell1.