Ja’mie: Private School Girl finishes this week, and despite mixed report cards from many critics, viewers staying on to finish the six-part series have found new reasons to admire Chris Lilley.
. Each episode has seen the vampish Ja’mie King go from strength to strength as her skirts get higher and higher. In short, we love this series.
While Ja’mie is a character that is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable, the key to this series — and pretty much everything Lilley does — is the language. Lilley has created a world in which Ja’mie is the queen bee and has used teen patois in a way that perfectly encapsulates 16-year-old girls’ often vacuous slang.
Lilley recently told the US TV Guide that he researched the character by observing his 16-year-old niece. “Once I’ve written a story, I like to check up on some details,” Lilley says. “I feel like she doesn’t realise how similar she is to the character … she’s certainly a lot nicer than Ja’mie,” Lilley said.
The most famous word Lilley has created in this series is ‘quiche’, which Lilly says is Ja’mie’s measure of hotness.
“You can never be too quiche but you have to be at least moderately quiche to be in her world.” The rapid fire Ja’mie screenplay is then filled with teenage dialect that will probably be unfamiliar to you unless you are living with a teenager yourself – YOLO, jokes, bebs and ILYSFM are just a taste of the weird and wonderful world Lilley has created for Ja’mie. (Lilley explains Ja’mie’s language for The New Daily below).
His phrase ‘Puck You’, used by his character Jonah Takalua from Summer Heights High, had a similar effect on the vernacular, if Lilley’s recent Reddit: Ask Me Anything (to promote Ja’mie’s screening this week on US TV’s creative heartland HBO) is anything to go by. Peppered through hundreds of very hilarious questions and answers were ‘Puck You’, ‘quiche’ and references to Jonah’s greatest moments from the series past. Lilley has a new show launching on the back of Ja’mie and it is rumoured to be all about Jonah, so stay tuned if you are a fan.
The story so far
But back to Ja’mie. In the five episodes thus far, Ja’mie has undergone a massive transformation. As the series has unfolded her schemes have rapidly come undone due to the cattiness and arrogance we have come to associate with the privileged girl from Sydney’s North Shore, now in year 12 and facing pressure to excel. Blinkered as ever, Ja’mie was dumped over Facebook by the very ‘quiche’ Mitchell, who chose to date her BFF Madison. The ensuing cat-fight was eventually patched up, but not before a heartbroken Ja’mie flunked her dance assessment, attempted suicide and went in for a ‘full sluzza’ makeover. She also finds out that she has lost the prestigious Hillford Medal. Awarded to the year 12 student who best displays ‘Christian values,’ Ja’mie lost out to her enemy, the boarder Erin.
Despite the threats and tantrums, Ja’mie found herself roundly punished (for once) in the wake of the Skype sex scandal featuring her pet project, ‘her African’ Kwami. And while the show has moved slowly, it is finally satisfying to see Ja’mie receive some comeuppance for being so thoroughly vicious and amoral. Despite this, it’s hard not to root for her in her self-obsessed quest for success. The finale promises to be exciting, as a revenge-driven Ja’mie wreaks havoc at the school’s Presentation Day.
If you haven’t switched on (or turned off early on), visit the ABC’s iview player and get yourself acquainted before the final episode this Wednesday night.
What the critics have said
Washington Post: “An enjoyably sick wallow in the evil that lurks in adolescence, as well as a formidable exercise in extreme portraiture.”
Hollywood Reporter: “Centering one of Lilley’s most annoying characters in a series to ramble on incessantly robs the character of its past effectiveness and makes her – and the series – almost unbearable to watch.”
The Guardian: “What we get from Private School Girl is pretty much a 20-odd minute cringe fest, and all we’re left with is a feverish desire for her comeuppance, like a whole bunch of maniacal Matthew Brodericks in Election.”
Esquire: “What’s most admirable about Ja’mie: Private School Girl is that Lilley, a lot like Ja’mie, never backs down. He never softens Ja’mie. She’s a monster until the end.”
• Quiche: It’s Ja’mie King’s measure of hotness. You can never be too quiche but you have to be at least moderately quiche to be in her world.
• Box Gap: Ja’mie prides herself on maintaining this – it’s the gap between the top of a woman’s thighs. According to Ja’mie, if you don’t have a box gap, it’s time to go on a diet.
• ILY! – I LOVE YOU! Said loudly, often many many times to her perfect prefects.
• Awkies: When something is incredibly awkward.
• ‘Gram That: Ja’mie tells her friends to post that photo on Instagram.
• Slut Socks: The thigh-high socks Ja’mie wears to impress Mitchell, the hottest boy at Kelton.
• Cray: When something is so awesome it’s crazy.
And some further explantion from us
• YOLO: You Only Live Once, the motto of her generation. Often tossed off before an impulsive decision or rash move. Popularised recently by US rapper Drake.
• Prefect Promise: A friendship pledge by Ja’mie and her six fellow prefects, to stick with each other no matter what. Ja’mie goes as far as suggesting that if one of them gets depressed and kills herself, the others must follow suit.
• Groupie: A group selfie.
• Soz, sozza: Shorthand for ‘sorry.’
• GB: Gay Bestie. Ja’mie’s GB is Cody, from Kelton Boys. He often drops by for gossip, fashion advice and gives her that makeover.
• ‘Jokes, bebs’: A phrase often used by Ja’mie’s GB Cody, after a half-serious/joking comment. It’s a lot more strenuous to say: ‘I was joking, babe.’
• Sluzza: Another word for ‘slut.’ Often yelled at Madison after she began dating Mitchell.
• Dick-pic: Exactly that, often texted or sent over Snapchat. Mitchell sent one to Ja’mie.
• Amazeballs: Often used to describe anything that is very amazing.
• Ship: To ship two people (or many) is to believe or support them being in a romantic relationship. Often used in fandom, Ja’mie states early on that she ships herself and Mitchell.
• Swag: Urban Dictionary defines it as: “the way someone presents themselves…. whether someone looks cool.” Severely overused, especially in music. The ironic use of the word is also irritating.
• Obvs: Obviously.
• Legit: A shortening of ‘legitimate,’ which applies to anything authentic and cool. e.g. ‘Ja’mie’s dance at the school assembly was totes legit.’
• Ja’mie-zing: An adjective thought up by Ja’mie to describe how amazing she is.
Follow Chris Lilley on Twitter: @ChrisLilley
— with Aicha Marhfour