TV

‘Why Are You Like This’ Perfectly Captures The Vibrant Nihilism Of Your Early 20s

"It’s so funny and sharp. I especially appreciate all the vagina humour."

Why-Are-You-Like-This

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ABC’s new series, Why Are You Like This follows three Aussie besties bumbling with abandon through the crazy freedoms and responsibilities that are your early 20s.

Making up the series central trio is Mia, Penny and Austin. Mia is a south Asian bisexual woman with no desire to keep any job for long. Penny, Mia’s best friend, is white, riddled with anxiety and determined to prove herself the best friend and ally to everyone she meets. Completing the trio is Austin, Penny’s housemate, and budding drag queen struggling with depression.

Across 6, 20-minute episodes, the series unfolds as a sitcom about these three against the world. More specifically, Mia, Penny and Austin against “the divisive sociopolitical hellscape that is 2021,” and it’s immensely fun.

With unabashedly upfront storylines — from lost diva cups to lost jobs — there’s an optimistic nihilism to Why Are You Like This. Where most series about precarious 20-30-somethings feel concerned with how to justify themselves, the trio in Why Are You Like This are refreshingly unconcerned with agonising over their own existence for validation.

Instead, they opt for relentless frankness that is as confronting as it is entertaining. During episode 3, scenes of Austin scrolling through memes about suicide are intercut with Penny drunkenly bonding with a random girl she met in the bathroom over her “Venn diagram of friendship,” while Mia fails at getting laid. It’s a discomforting sequence held together brilliantly by the creator’s determination to present experiences as they simply are for so many young people.

No doubt the series’ addictively honest qualities is a credit to the creators.  Comedian, Naomi Higgins (who also plays Penny), and writer, Humyara Mahbub wanted to make a show about their friendship. The pair then teamed up with Aunty Donna’s Mark Bonanno via ABC’s comedy Fresh Blood initiative in 2018 and made the pilot.

As a long time addict of the ’20-30 somethings figuring life out’ genre, the series feels like an instant classic. The series follows in the more diverse and nuanced footsteps of series like Insecure, Chewing Gum, or Search Party but with a distinctively late-millennial/Gen Z edge.

Why Are You Like This is currently streaming on ABC iview, and will be internationally released on Netflix later this year.


Merryana Salem is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese–Australian writer, critic, teacher, researcher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry. If you want, check out her podcast, GayV Club where she gushes about LGBT rep in media with her best friend. Either way, she hopes you ate something nice today.