‘The Shape of Sound’ and ‘Why Are You Like This’

The Kill Your Darlings Podcast
The Kill Your Darlings Podcast
'The Shape of Sound' and 'Why Are You Like This'

KYD’s Hayley May Bracken, Alan Vaarwerk and Suzy Garcia discuss Fiona Murphy’s new memoir The Shape of Sound (available 30 March from Text Publishing) and its exploration of how her deaf experience has been shaped by the social and structural stigma of disability.

We then discuss transgressive comedy and Zoomer humour in the new ABC iview series Why Are You Like This, co-created and written by Naomi Higgins, Mark Samual Bonanno, and Humyara Mahbub.

Our theme song is Broke for Free’s ‘Something Elated’. This episode was produced by Hayley May Bracken.

Further Reading and Culture Picks:

Fiona Murphy on noise, architecture and navigating the world as a deaf person, and how disability ‘fixes’ like hearing aids aren’t always a solution.

Rebecca Shaw on politically correct comedy.

Suzy recommends: Ethos (Netflix) and Friends & Dark Shapes (Kavita Bedford, Text)

Alan recommends: Eating With My Mouth Open (Sam van Zweden, NewSouth) and Minari (in cinemas now).

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Let us know what you think by rating and reviewing in your app of choice!




Hayley May Bracken: Welcome back to the Kill Your Darlings Podcast, I’m your host, Hayley May Bracken, and today I’m joined by KYD editor Alan Vaarwerk…

Alan Vaarwerk: Hi Hayley.

Hayley May Bracken: Hey—and KYD’s new deputy editor Suzy Garcia.

Suzy Garcia: Hello!

Hayley May Bracken: Welcome, Suzy! Together, we will be discussing Fiona Murphy’s new memoir, The Shape of Sound, which explores the author coming to terms with her deafness, and the ABC’s new Gen Z comedy series Why Are You Like This, which follows three young friends navigating work and friendship and trying not to get cancelled along the way. It’s currently streaming free on ABC iview. First up, we’re going to begin with Fiona Murphy’s The Shape of Sound, published via Text Publishing and out on 30 March. The Shape of Sound traces deaf poet and essayist Fiona Murphy’s ongoing exploration of her deaf identity from a shameful, corrosive secret to the enriching discovery of sign language and deaf culture. The Shape of Sound is a compelling exploration of sound silence and the self; blends memoir with observations on the health care industry. The Shape of Sound is a story about the corrosive power of secrets, stigma and shame, and how deaf experiences and disability are shaped by economics, social policy, medicine and societal expectations. So first impressions, what was the reading experience like for both of you?

Alan Vaarwerk: I thought it was a beautiful book, like it’s such a lovely memoir. It’s really beautifully written. And Fiona Murphy has done an incredible job at sort of, I guess, talking about the body and embodiment and taking us along the journey with her from thinking that her deafness was something to hide, whether she was she was questioning whether she felt that she was deaf and what deafness means, and then kind of her journey to, which is still, you know, by the end of the book, it’s still something that she is figuring out. But it is something that we kind of take that journey with her as she figures things out for herself.

Hayley May Bracken: And Suzy, what about you? What were your first impressions?

Suzy Garcia: I think reading it, you just get such an insight into her interior life, throughout her childhood and then up until now, and you just really are there with her in an emotional kind of landscape. I was thinking about that quote from Ellena Savage’s, Blueberries, like, ‘what kind of body writes a memoir?’ And I think this one, this memoir is so led by the body, explored through the body. For me that interiority and the generosity she has in just explaining, like her viewpoint, I really, it was just very compelling. I do know her personally, so for me, it was like, I have this understanding of who she is through our friendship, and then seeing these kind of like deeper layers of what her life was like was really eye opening.

Hayley May Bracken: That’s really fascinating that you know her personally—is the experience of reading a memoir by someone that you know on a personal level, does it feel like a whole other level of intimacy to achieve? Because there’s obviously a way someone writing a book can be intimate because they don’t have to confront the person in front of them. What was one of the things that surprised you?

Suzy Garcia: Because it is so intimate, I think in a way it is a bit like reading someone’s diary. There are things in that that she wouldn’t be able to like, say, in everyday conversation in the kind of depth that she does in the book. If anything, maybe like I’ve heard a story and it’s much lighter, and then reading it in the memoir, just kind of getting a better sense of like the emotional current of what that story actually meant and how it tied in.

Alan Vaarwerk: Um, it’s interesting what you say, Suzy, about reading like a diary, because it’s, it is written in that sort of short essay format. And I think that really sort of, I think that kind of enhances that feeling of, of sort of being there with her as she goes on this kind of journey of doing her own research, doing Auslan lessons, discovering, sort of, discovering herself and what deafness means for her. And so I think the structure of the book really adds something to that kind of feeling in the book.

Hayley May Bracken: I really enjoyed how Fiona was able to pass through so much of her life as long as she made this pronounced effort to make sure that she was able to see people’s faces, or to lean in, and the way she wrote about her body really straining, like the ropey muscles and the sweat and the effort to not have to appear like she was making an effort, and all of the ways that her body and her social interactions tried to overcompensate for that feeling, so that she could hide it. And the pride she felt initially when she was able to hide it, or trying to distance herself from that identity. And I think that just gave such amazing insight into that experience, and how she shaped it not only through the body, but with what she learnt about buildings, and how buildings and streets and all of these things contain our bodies, and shape how able we feel to navigate the world.

Suzy Garcia: Yeah, I think the way it blends a kind of traditional memoir with these kind of essay bits, like you mentioned her exploration of architecture, I think that section about Churchill is so interesting. But I think the way she does that, she kind of continually brings the personal back to the bigger picture, in this really kind of generous way, I think. And, and so it’s like an ongoing discussion, connects to the wider disability community throughout what she’s going through and discovering.

Hayley May Bracken: So true. I love the details about Churchill and the parts that come from her personal research about how if your deafness is more pronounced in one or the other, theories about the emotional or personality effect that that has on you, that the left ear is connected to the heart, or the way that Churchill made sure that his deafness wasn’t mentioned in biographies, or, and tried to censor that part of himself, and was determined not to have to wear hearing aids or any apparatus that would change his public image.

Alan Vaarwerk: I think something that the book does really well, going back to that discussion of passing, I think something that Fiona Murphy does through this book is kind of, kind of dismantles this idea of, of being kind of this binaristic idea of deafness, which I think a lot of the kind of hearing community thinks of, you are either, to be deaf or not deaf, you either can hear or you can’t hear. And I think what Fiona Murphy does a really good job of here, which again, is part of her own coming to terms with, with this as well, is the idea that deafness is not just zero sound. And the idea that deafness is not silence, I think is something that…was, was kind of unpacked really well.

Hayley May Bracken: So I think we’ve already sort of covered, the next question was what did you think the book did particularly well, and I feel like your answer there Alan leant into even the next question, which was about the book dives into the complexities and the murkiness of disability and identity. Because you spoke about how it broke away from binary thinking, which I admit I certainly was educated via reading this book.

Alan Vaarwerk: Yeah, I think something that that Fiona Murphy does really well is addressing this idea that deafness is something that once you get a hearing aid is ‘fixed’, like that it’s something that that there is an easy fix for it. There’s a passage in the book where she talks about receiving a hearing aid, and sort of trialling one to see how it works for her, and, you know, it doesn’t give anything away, really, to say that it is quite overwhelming for her, and, and which is an experience that is shared by a lot of people who are born deaf or who are born with hearing loss. And so it’s not…and the way that the medical establishment kind of presents it as something that A, needs to be fixed, and something that can just be fixed with technology is, yeah, quite a problematic sort of way of thinking about disability and which, and so I think something that yeah, is something that the book does really well in dismantling those kind of ideas.

Hayley May Bracken: It’s an important part of this book is, is how she navigates that. And I agree with you, Suzy, I find it really generous to share that journey and not to deny her own uncomfortability with that identity. And I think a lot of people who represent minority groups feel a lot of pressure to perform completely unmarred pride, and I think it’s really useful for the understanding of, of these groups, that people speak this generously and honestly about how complex it really is to inhabit those spaces.

Suzy Garcia: Yeah, I think that complexity really comes through, um, in the way that like, she relates to the Deaf identity and grows into it. I think, like, in the beginning, in her childhood, it’s something that, like, she hasn’t got access to at all, it’s just this kind of obstacle she has to overcome. But then as she’s getting older and she gets that diagnosis—oops, is that a spoiler? Maybe. But as she, as she gets older and she kind of embraces her deaf identity, it galvanises her and it provides comfort, but it also adds meaning. I mean, it propels the writing, it also links the writing to a kind of political and social message about the systemic ways that we treat people with disability, and how they have to navigate the world with so many obstacles.

Alan Vaarwerk: I think something that I think we’ve sort of talked around, but also I think that the book does quite well is that it’s not a book that is there to teach the reader things, like we learn things by reading, but it’s as much about Fiona learning things for herself as it is about, um, as it is about telling hearing readers what being deaf is like. And so obviously that is something that I think makes those revelations when they come feel really organic and really, we sort of feel them with her. And so I think that’s something that the book does really well.

Hayley May Bracken: That’s so true. And the specificity of her experiences highlights the ways that pain of secrecy, and the desire to keep her deafness a secret from people, and how that inhibited her from all kinds of intimacy in her life was the most profound takeaway for me.

Suzy Garcia: Yeah, and I think how she kind of comes to understand her disability kind of opens her eyes to how other people with disability are kind of encumbered in ways that she didn’t realise. That kind of scene where, in her physio training, she’s, um, they’re kind of testing out wheelchairs as one of the, one of the requirements in the car park. And she realises they have to do it there because nowhere else in the university can kind of accommodate wheelchairs. And it’s something that she is just realising…I think it’s really interesting the way that she’s kind of, her awareness of her disability kind of opens her eyes to the other ways that the world doesn’t accommodate other people.

Alan Vaarwerk: Something that I, uh—again, another thing that I’m kind of listing things that I enjoy about the book, but that’s kind of the experience that I had, I sort of found a lot of, there’s a lot to like in this book—something else that I really appreciated is the way that Fiona discusses Auslan, sign language, and kind of talks about, talks about that. I think something that, you know, there’s a lot of there’s several passages in the book where she really describes kind of the, I guess, the etymology of particular signs, and how they, how they correspond to movements, and how they, and where the meaning of those comes from, and how the whole body is involved in sign language, it’s not just the hands. Another way of, and she talked about how it’s not simply a replacement for English, it’s a whole different way of conceptualising language, which I think a lot of hearing people who have sort of English or spoken language as their first language, certainly me, didn’t really comprehend about sign language. And so I think that’s another thing that, again, that we find out along with her, but really kind of, is a, kind of, really challenges what we think of as ‘the deaf experience’, and I think does that in a really, again, generous kind of way.

Hayley May Bracken: Here, in some ways, it actually gave such profound insight into sound, into the experience of sound and language in, in such new and interesting ways, and the way that the book is divided, I enjoyed that as well, in the musical terminology of ‘decay’, and ‘attack’, and ‘release’, ‘sustain’, where these are words that are used to, to describe music, in music theory, and putting them in this context was really great because obviously the word ‘decay’ or the word ‘attack’, or the word ‘release’ or ‘sustain’, not in music theory, have such different valences, such a different feeling to them. And I really enjoyed that part of it as well. It seems like a very well thought out book, like very thoughtful, and very dense and full of experience.

Alan Vaarwerk: I mean, it’s, I mean, you say dense, but—and it is in terms of the amount of, kind of experience that she covers, but it’s also, like, it’s also very easy to read, like it’s a really, yeah, beautifully written, very sort of lyrical, kind of, the essays that sort of form the chapters are quite short, it’s yeah, it is a really kind of beautiful book to read as well, as kind of teaching us, you know, as well as the things that you learn from it.

Hayley May Bracken: So true, I meant dense in terms of there’s so much in every part of it, it feels really considered. And, but I yeah, I agree. It’s not, it’s not a dense or a difficult read. It’s not hard to get through, but there just seems to be so much life bound up in it. Any closing statements, Suzy, before we move on to Why Are You Like This?

Suzy Garcia: Well, I think yeah, just lastly, I think with the release of Growing Up Disabled in Australia as well this month, it’s so good to see these stories kind of out there in the publishing world. And they have value and, like, artistic merit, and have something to say. And it’s, I think just the quality of this book and also the stories that are in that collection goes to show that…a lack of representation from people with disability is is culturally bad, socially bad, it really…it really gives us so much to get insights into voices that we just don’t often hear enough. Like, Growing Up Disabled in Australia has just gone into its second print run. And I think it shows that, like, there is there’s a desire for these stories. And I think the part of the invisibility of disability that Fiona is showing in her story, disabled people are all among us, they are, they they may be hidden somewhat in the stories that we often se, but actually, I think it just goes to show that they want to hear their stories, they want to see people like them, they want to be able to express themselves, and I think it’s so good to see it happen.

Hayley May Bracken: All right. Now we’re going to be discussing Why Are You Like This, the ABC iview series that’s streaming now, featuring best friends Mia, Penny and Austin, 20-somethings plundering their way through Melbourne in the hyper-divisive sociopolitical hellscape that is modern day Melbourne, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Starring Naomi Higgins, who plays Penny, Olivia Junkeer plays Mia, and Wil King, who plays Austin. The show’s creators, Higgins, Mark Bonanno of the comedy team Aunty Donna, and the illustrator, writer and lawyer Humyara Mahbub developed the series through Fresh Blood, a joint ABC-Screen Australia initiative that supports up-and-coming talent. I remember seeing that and hoping that it would get picked up, so I was excited that it did. The team received a grant in 2018 to produce a four-part web series, which later got the green light for a TV show. And what we’re seeing streaming now on ABC iview is the six episodes that will now, that will soon appear on Netflix internationally. So straight out, what did you think? Did you enjoy the show?

Suzy Garcia: Alan, do you want to go first?

Alan Vaarwerk: Ah, yeah, I’ll go first. Yeah, I did. I did enjoy it. It’s, um, it was kind of, it’s a very snackable kind of show, they’re kind of, six episodes, they’re twenty, twenty-five minutes each, it’s, yeah—I mean it’s funny, which is, uh, you know, something that can’t be said for all comedies, and I, yeah, I think it’s, you know, it’s, it’s going to be an interesting one to talk about I think, because it’s one of those, it’s sort of a little bit, you know, it’s a little bit silly, it’s a little bit nihilistic, it kind of defies discussion in a way. So I’d be curious to hear what the two of you thought.

Hayley May Bracken: Yeah. I’m curious to hear what you thought, Suzy, because you didn’t want to go first, which makes me think you have something not nice to say. And I can’t wait to.

Suzy Garcia: Oh, I think I just have mixed feelings about it. Um, I definitely thought it was funny, and I found myself laughing along to it, but yeah, at the same time, I’m not sure how I felt about it. I’m like, I guess you don’t really need to have character growth in a TV show, do you? It’s like, they’re comedy skits, that’s what it is. I just felt there was this question that kept coming up around, like being woke and virtue signalling, and I guess it doesn’t really have an answer about it. It’s just poking fun at it. Yeah. So I don’t know, I don’t know how I felt about it.

Hayley May Bracken: It’s um, there is a great tradition of comedies with characters that have absolutely no character arc or growth, like Seinfeld or Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I think it’s rarer, but it can certainly be done. Peep Show, actually more, more commonly in comedies than in drama, it’s, it’s more, this is just how they are, and, and we can have fun with that. I wondered if you felt as though it was truly marketed for Gen Z or, like to Gen Z as an audience, or if it was in some way mocking Gen Z for everybody else?

Suzy Garcia: See, I felt like it was very millennial in outlook, in like… I mean, maybe because it was originally came out in 2018, the first episode, right? So for me, I never really felt like it was about Gen Z, for me it feels like very much millennial.

Alan Vaarwerk: I mean, I guess it’s kind of—I mean, I guess the show is written by millennials, but it’s about people sort of in their early 20s, which I get—which I guess is that cusp of sort of older Gen Z, early- younger millennials, kind of thing. But I don’t know. I think for me, what strikes me as, you know, of that generation rather than what I would think of as ‘millennial comedy’ is kind of is, I guess, the nihilism of it. It’s like everyone, yeah, everyone sucks, and everyone is sort of—even when people are trying to do good, they’re actually doing bad, and even when people are bad, they kind of can sometimes accidentally doing good, but nothing matters. So I think—and that’s kind of played for laughs, and that feels to me very much sort of, you know, a 2020-slash-2021 mood.

Hayley May Bracken: (Laughs) Mood. And I was also wondering if you felt recognition, either of you watching it. I mean, this is your city it’s depicting, we’re not Gen Z, but we’re millennials, we’re not too far from, from this nihilistic iPhone-saturated world. What—did you feel like there were moments of recognition, because it’s not often that we get to see even Australian comedies that are even attempting to do something this close to home. Did you see yourself, did you see people you know?

Alan Vaarwerk: I saw the internet I know. Like, the characters are sort of very online, and the writers are very online. And so some of the humour kind of plays into, I guess, things that I’ve seen play out on Twitter and on, online, and kind of those discussions around there. And, you know, I’m, one of my sort of bugbears is depictions of the Internet in popular culture, I think it’s very, very hard to do well. And I think this does kind of do it well, by not making it seem detached from real life. And so, and yeah, you know, it’s nice to see kind of people, it’s nice to see Melbourne. It’s nice to kind of—it’s a very well, like the, it’s a very slick looking show, it’s a very good looking show, like the the kind of cinematography and the kind of costumes that the characters wear are excellent, and I think it looks it looks very good on the screen.

Hayley May Bracken: I liked that they tried to grapple with street art and being cancelled and work culture. I did find sometimes Mia’s character, particularly, even though I think the actress did a really great job, I found that character the most sort of potentially problematic. Like, I am not a woman of colour, so I can’t speak to that but I wondered how that would feel, seeing this character constantly broadcasting that about herself? Because I got the joke initially, and then I was like, ooh, you kind of need to give her a little bit more depth than that.

Suzy Garcia: I liked Mia, I feel like she was, um…self-aware. You know, that line at the end where she’s like, ‘some people use critical thinking rather than finding the most oppressed person in the room’. Like…

Hayley May Bracken: That was her best line, by far.

Suzy Garcia: But I mean, I think that line and some of the things she said throughout the show shows that she, while maybe not the best moral person, understands, is quite savvy about the nature of (Laughs) the political correctness that’s being kind of made fun of here. So while she may weaponise it, she also kind of has a disdain for it, which to me, I don’t know, seems more self-aware than, say, Penny, who, (Laughs) kind of just goes with the tide of everyone around her.

Hayley May Bracken: I felt—I enjoyed the series, to be clear, like I found it funny, I think they did a great job. I take my hat off to them in many ways. But I did feel as though the earlier episodes, you could tell that they’d had more time to work on them and hone them. I feel like the first episode, for instance, is so strong, like Penny at the workplace and in the video that she made and the conversations that she had with a male boss and co-workers, I just felt like that was some of the funniest, slickest writing in the whole series. Did you guys feel any lag towards the end?

Alan Vaarwerk: No, I mean, I guess the series is so, you know, it’s not a kind of start to finish sort of story arc, really. So there are a couple of, sort of, connective threads, but really the, the episodes could really be in any order. So I sort of I mean, I kind of, I think my favourite episode was Episode 2, where Penny, in trying to help the women in this workplace, she ends up hurting them. And that’s kind of a, yeah, there’s a really kind of funny tension there. I think maybe. Yeah, some of the the last episode—I kind of liked the conceit of kind of walking around Melbourne, but I thought the kind of this the setup was quite good, but maybe the sort of the landing was a little bit softer than I thought it could have been.

Suzy Garcia: In episode two, I thought the funniest joke maybe of the season was when Penny says, ‘I understand late capitalism’, before…

Hayley May Bracken: Yes, ‘I understand the pressures of late capitalism’.

Suzy Garcia: Yeah. (Laughs) I thought that was very funny. And I think, going back to what I was saying before about character growth and it being missing, I think the first two episodes felt like a sketch comedy, and the form was quite tight. Then as they went along, they kind of morphed into something else, for example, like Austin’s storyline and dealing with depression, I think there was, like, room, maybe to go in a different direction. But I quite liked the late episodes, actually. But at the same time, I did feel like I was kind of waiting for the kind of joke that was being made again and again about…about wokeness and political correctness, for there to be maybe some more depth to that joke, and I’m not sure if there was.

Alan Vaarwerk: I think there’s something very funny about someone trying to do the right thing, but accidentally doing the wrong thing. Like that’s kind of the backbone of Mr. Bean and other sort of comedies throughout kind of history. So whatever sort of generation that exists in, there’s kind of, there are sort of funny things about that. I think, you know, I guess, you know, the show kind of deliberately walks a very fine line between, I guess, making fun of, you know, ‘wokeness’ without saying that wokeness is invalid, like it’s okay—The things that the characters care about are things that you should be caring about. And I think, so I think that kind of, like you’re saying in terms of turning it back on themselves, I think it does succeed in that. Like, I don’t think anyone could come away from watching this show and think that the show is saying that that the writers don’t care about women or about, you know, queer rights or the, or the rights of people of colour and things like that. I think the joke is very much on them.

Hayley May Bracken: That’s a good point. I, I recognise the Aesop store in the Aegis sketch, sort of scene, where…

Alan Vaarwerk: Ah, it’s pronounced Ee-gis?

Hayley May Bracken: (Laughs) Yeah, exactly. And I have had moments where we would, as we’ve been discussing this, where I’m like, oh, but that’s, like me being offended on behalf of a woman of colour about the Mia character is so, so Penny of me. In a way, that’s the function of of a comedy about PC things. It is a risk, which I appreciate it, because that’s a very difficult audience to pitch to. In a way. Like, people who are going to be ready to tell you how you’re doing? So with Australian TV comedy more broadly, how would you say the genre is evolving? Do you think this is a new kind of Australian comedy?

Alan Vaarwerk: I mean, it’s a new kind of Australian comedy in that we’re seeing it on Australian TV. Like I think for so long, kind of, the type of shows that—I mean, you know, Australian comedy in terms of like stand-up and in terms of kind of online comedy, for so long, there’s been like incredible stuff happening. But I think in terms of, there’s been a real disconnect in terms of what gets picked up by TV networks. And that always seems to go back to this kind of old guard of, you know, maybe people who were kind of funny 20 years ago and a kind of, kind of just dragging things out, and sort of having diminishing returns from there. But I think the fact that, you know, I guess that we’re seeing this, I think Netflix being in Australia is playing a role, because we saw Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun late last year, which, again, that was picked up by an American streaming network, this show has been picked up kind of in collaboration with Netflix, so I think maybe overseas players are taking a risk that some of the old guard of Australian film and TV aren’t.

Suzy Garcia: I was just thinking about this show as like an Australian show, and maybe this might have something to do with the partnership with Netflix, but it did really feel to me like not so idiosyncratic to Melbourne or Australia in some ways. Like, I definitely think you could be transposed to say, you know, New York or Berlin or London—like there is something about, what you were saying before Alan, about the comedy of the Internet or like the world of the Internet, feels like a world on Instagram or something. Yeah. So in terms of being Australian content, I definitely think it has a wider appeal and maybe intentionally so.

Hayley May Bracken: That’s a really good point. I think that is true to the landscape of, going back to what you said, Alan, I recognise the Internet, and if you are living online, that isn’t specific to an Australian city. That isn’t specific to… yeah, I think that they tried to ground it in Melbourne as an experience via…Ranx? Is that the street artist. Ranx.

Suzy Garcia: (Laughs).

Alan Vaarwerk: (Laughs). Yeah, I was going to say, like the the joke about Ranx is something that I mean, people in Melbourne are going to recognise as being a sort of dig at kind of Lushsux, and like you were saying before about the Aesop/Aegis, like, that’s something that Australian audiences are going to pick up. But you’re right, that by and large, you know, every every country, every city sort of has those kind of analogues as well that, you know, kind of edgy street art exists in places other than Australia, and kind of bougie stores full of things that smell good exist in countries other than Australia. So, yeah, you’re right, Suzy, it is very sort of, it is very kind of universal while also having something for Australian audiences—which again, is like something that I think the Aunty Donna show on Netflix did very well as well, like the, it was a, it was really popular kind of all over the world, but there were also some very specific Australia, very specific Melbourne jokes that would have gone well over the head of your average American viewer. But, yeah, I think it’s made it extra, a little something, a little Easter egg for Australian viewers.

Hayley May Bracken: Which I appreciate, I like that. Well, to summarise, to sum it all up, would you recommend it? Do you think people should watch the show? Should they watch Why Are You Like This?

Suzy Garcia: Sure, I think so. I’ve actually watched it with a couple of friends this week, and it’s been interesting to get such varied reviews. Some people got up and would not watch the rest of it, like, ‘I hate these people’, (Laughs) and then others are like, oh yep, this this reminds me of my workplace, it reminds me of, like, this person I know. So, yeah, I would I would recommend it. And I think in some ways because of it being on Netflix there’s like a bigger pressure for it to perform in certain ways. I have to say, the last TV show I watched was I May Destroy You, so… (Laughs).

Hayley May Bracken: The bar is high.

Suzy Garcia: Yeah, well, like for me that’s like a very unfair comparison to make between the two, though I think in some ways they’re kind of addressing similar themes.

Alan Vaarwerk: But also kind of going about it sort of in kind of different ways, I guess, because I May Destroy You is…

Suzy Garcia: Oh, very different.

Alan Vaarwerk: Quite, I guess quite heavy for a comedy, whereas this is sort of not quite, not quite that. I would definitely recommend it, I think, sort of like you say, Suzy, if it is one of those things that if we want to see more of—even if, even if this particular show isn’t all things to all people, if we want to see this kind of thing on Australian TV, which I certainly do, I guess it’s the sort of thing that we do need to kind of, you know, vote with our clicks, kind of thing. And so, you know, as I said before, it’s very snackable, it’s kind of thing that I reckon, you know, if you’re on the fence, give it, you know, watch the first two episodes, if you if it isn’t for you, then that’s, you know, 45 minutes out of your day. If it is for you, then there’s plenty more to enjoy.

Hayley May Bracken: I think you made a really good point there with voting with your clicks, and if it’s something you want to see—because any criticism I might have had about the show, I’m still curious enough and I still hope that they get to make another season and I get to see more, because there were some really great moments that were memorable and beautiful. I love the, when the Austin character was having his depressive, in his room… like, short drag moment where he was, where he was performing like… That close-up on his face, I just, I haven’t seen something like that on Australian TV, and I really appreciated it. He did a great performance of it, and I found that really gorgeous.

Alan Vaarwerk: Oh, my God. Yes. Yes, 100 per cent. (Laughs) That was stunning, yeah.

Hayley May Bracken: So, yeah, the parts that that came through came through so hard that maybe some of the connecting parts I, I thought were not as strong. But I really hope that they get to make more, because I care enough about the characters to want to see what else they do. All right, now now that we know how we all feel about Why Are You Like This, what else have you been reading, watching and listening to?

Alan Vaarwerk: I’ve just finished reading Eating With My Mouth Open by Sam van Zweden, which was our First Book Club pick for February, and I, yeah, can’t recommend it enough. It’s a, it’s a really beautiful kind of exploration of food and memory, and I read it sort of over the New Year period when I was at home with my family, and so it really kind of, a lot of the things that Sam van Zweden talks about in the book is, was really kind of, I could ask my parents about certain things, you know, Sam van Zweden, her family is Dutch and my family is also, um, uh, has Dutch background as well, so there were a couple of things there that I sort of really related to, so that was something that, there’s a whole bunch of, um, there’s a podcast episode and a whole bunch of stuff on KYD that I’d definitely recommend people seek out. The other thing—that feels like cheating, because it’s kind of KYD stuff. But the other thing that, the other thing that I really enjoyed recently was, I saw the film Minari, which is written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, sort of follows a setting like the 80s. It follows a Korean American family who sort of move from California, Los Angeles I think, out to rural Arkansas to set up this farm because the dad has a dream of being a farmer. And it’s this really beautiful, very quiet, but also quite impactful story about this young family. The two children, the film is sort of told from the son, from the son’s perspective and through his eyes. Yeah, it’s just a really beautiful film, it’s got Oscar buzz, I would definitely encourage everyone to go and see it.

Hayley May Bracken: What about you, Suzy? What are you reading, listening to or watching currently?

Suzy Garcia: At the moment I’ve been watching a TV show on Netflix called Ethos, which is a Turkish drama. It’s really fantastic, and a bit different to a lot of Turkish dramas, which are called dizi, which are usually quite over-the-top, often embedded in history, where this one feels very contemporary and about—and political, which is interesting in the climate, the political climate of Turkey right now. Turkish soap operas are really big around the world, they’re the second biggest exporter of TV shows outside of the US, and yet they’re not really watched in Australia so much. I think this one’s like a really good one to kind of, if you haven’t really watched any for the first time, it’s a really good entry point. It kind of, is kind of a cross-section of life in Istanbul, people of different classes and backgrounds and some pious, some not, kind of a look at um, yeah, just like the make-up of Turkey right now. So, yeah, I really recommend that. I’ve also been reading a book which is coming out on 2 March called Friends & Dark Shapes by Kavita Bedford. It’s a debut set in Sydney, and it’s kind of about this young millennial/Zoomer, not quite sure, probably the cusp, just like on Why Are You Like This. And it’s just like really beautiful, like vignettes of this one character kind of talking, she’s a journalist, and talking to different people, kind of reminds me a little bit of Rachel Cusk in some ways, but also just, you know, a fresh new voice set in Sydney as well. So yeah, really loving that so far.

Hayley May Bracken: Mmm, all of those, particularly the Turkish TV show, has intrigued me. Thank you Alan, thank you Suzy.

Alan Vaarwerk & Suzy Garcia: Thanks Hayley.

Hayley May Bracken: For more great essays, criticism, commentary, memoir, culture picks, please visit killyourdarlings.com.au. And you’ll hear from us again soon. Bye.