Get Krack!n has broken my usual loathing of appointment television. Every Wednesday night, I get under a blanket and surrender my full attention to a show that was once a satire of two white women hosting breakfast television. I’ve watched with delight across Season 2 as the on-screen personas of Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney have been edged out of frame inch by inch. But this week’s episode took the conceit to a most satisfying end, and it wasn’t because the Kates were being pushed out; it was because of who was taking their place.
What is it about Get Krack!n that’s so enthralling? At a time of not exactly unprecedented crises in the Australian colony, from dead riverbeds to our ever-boldening white supremacists, it’s refreshing to have a comedy whose forced chirpy nihilism just fits. At last, a comedy to suit our mutual panic that does more than placate or distract!
For a while, though, the show has edged uncomfortably (and with laudable self-awareness) around race through a tug of war between the hosts and the hosted. We’ve seen breakthroughs and tension between the hosts, their fictional crew and their guests that revealed the complicity of upper middle-class white women in widespread oppression. But those tensions were governed on the on-screen Kates’ terms, moderated in dramatic terms by the constraints of their more involved character development. Delicious as it was, I found myself no longer sated by the on-screen Kates’ nihilism alone, driven at first by their characters’ attempts to advance in a patriarchal realm and subsequently by their complicit guilt.
With season two, the terms have shifted. And in its finale, Get Krack!n showed us the grit-teeth, half-chortling nihilism of the colonised that has long governed the lives of Indigenous women like me, driven expertly by Miranda Tapsell and Nakkiah Lui, with Lui as co-writer. It was meaty. It was genius. It was the most nourishing despair I have felt in a long time.
For those unlucky enough to not have seen it yet, the Kates shuffle on screen in muu-muus, sneakers and crocs. Kate McLennan howls, and we realise that she’s in labour. What happens after that gives a nice, mocking levity to the central focus of the show: Tapsell and Lui’s on-screen personas take over for the Kates in respective attempts to “stop being mistaken for Deborah Mailman” and “be the Aboriginal Sonia Kruger”. From there, Tapsell and Lui work against a crew and suite of guests who variously paint their faces white, shove them into shapewear, drop them into a colonial hellscape mudroom, force them to fold laundry and ask for their support for a white nationalist party.
Tapsell, who wants to survive as a blak woman in television, coaches Lui, who is tired of being perceived as an “angry blak woman”, in the necessary compromises: “Don’t ever ask for anything. Say sorry all the time. Order cupcakes for the crew so they like you. Be bright, be breezy. Don’t make a white lady cry.”
These are all things I and many others do in our off-screen daily lives, and when Tapsell and Lui lay them out so precisely on screen, it both tickles and stings. Lui, after some road bumps, surrenders to the advice (and the kidney-numbing shapewear) while Tapsell’s just fury grows too big to push away in the name of respectability.
The crescendo of her anger was vindicating – and these two comic geniuses shifted tone, gaze and expectation exquisitely in a way that shows us how socially-committed satire is done. Evelyn Araluen called it “heart-wrenching destruction”. Tapsell and Lui both deliver verbal strikes at colonisation and the role of TV and its audience in it, which you’ll just have to see and wither before.
As Tapsell and Lui’s characters trashed the studio, I cheered, and recalled Associate Professor Chelsea Bond’s writing on the audacity of anger: “Hope is for white people … They tell us not to be angry, to have ‘hope’ by simply re-imagining ourselves out … what we want to do is tear it down.”
And tear it down, they do.
It’s a real shame that Get Krack!n is ending just as it hits what looks like a full return to the power of women’s fury and revolutionary joy. Through Tapsell and Lui’s uncompromising dive into the much-maligned anger of blak women, the show seemed to finally realise its ask after two seasons of giving uproarious answers. We cross our fingers in wait for a blak Get Krack!n that acknowledges that chuckling nihilism can be healing, but is never enough without the anger and drive that we just saw. And we have a name for it, as Tapsell helpfully and angrily stuttered out just before her reconciliatory cupcakes arrived to be thrown across the room: “Welcome back to Get Black!n! Black to Get Krack!n.”