Review of ABC’s Nemesis: They’re all a bunch of Cunts.

ABC’s Nemesis is the fourth instalment of the public broadcaster’s post-mortem journalism documentaries on a previous federal government, this time giving us a peek into the lives and perspectives of those who ran the country during the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison years.

A concept for a television program that is immediately hurt by choosing a period in history that means all the main characters end up being a bunch of insufferable cunts.

If you are looking for hard-hitting journalism about what really went down in the halls of Parliament House during the Coalition government while breaking down the key issues, as the ads promised and the media has been raving about, you will be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a Mean Girls knock off that replaces the fashionable but somewhat likeable teenage girls acting like rude brats, with a lot of rich old white men acting like bratty teenage girls, well then you’re in luck.

In terms of fighting truth to power, Nemesis is to journalism what Married at First Sight is to journalism. It follows around a bunch of arseholes asking them questions about the drama in their lives knowing full well that these actors are just going to lie in order to make themselves look better and fuel their already enormous egos.

The series is essentially a reality show for people who look down on those who watch reality shows. With a seemingly endless cast of fuckwits who pretend to be mates for the money and cameras but secretly hate each other’s guts, the show feels more like the Real Parliament Housewives of Canberra.

(That was only said as a pun, obviously a show talking to the Liberal Party doesn’t have many ‘wives’ in the cast as that would require multiple women in positions of power within the party.)

Talking to the politicians directly helps viewers receive insights into the people who ran the country, except for Tony Abbott who refused to take part, as well as Former Prime Minister Peta Credlin (2013-2015).

It also allowed for analysis unavailable to anyone else, like Barnaby Joyce explaining that brains are split up into “three quadrants”: academic intelligence, social intelligence and sporting intelligence. One can only assume the 4th quadrant for Barnaby is booze.

Much like brains, the series was split into three quadrants. It tells the story of the government chronologically, starting with an episode on the Abbott era, then the Turnbull era, and ending with the Morrison era. Much like how the story was told in real life.

This decision works well for obvious reasons however it was hindered by a heavy focus on the leadership spills and Morrison’s election loss, taking up at least a third of each episode. This causes most of the stories viewers care about being cut harder than the ABC’s budget during these governments. While leaving a large section of the runtime to a small part of the story causing it to be padded with more junk than Tony Abbott’s budgie smugglers.

But the story selection was clearly immaculate though. Move over rorts, NBN, non-existent drought relief water, the parking lot lies, the Prayer Room, desk wanking, defamation suits or even Morrison’s attacks against Grace Tame; there is simply no time for that rubbish as we must hear about how at one of the planning meetings for a spill there was a tuna dish for dinner but one of the men who everyone forgot existed is not a fan of tuna. 

Not only was there the amazing scoop about some guy’s personal preference towards tuna, there was also a bombshell revelation that one of the planning groups purchased a projector for their meetings. It’s no wonder as to why they gave that riveting journalism about the same amount of focus as they did Robodebt and the allegations made by Brittany Higgins. I assume a Walkley is well on the way for the best projector related scoop.

But like all reality shows, the main driver of the show is of course its cast of characters, which for this program is easily the worst part of the show.

The first main character, Malcolm Turnbull is a narcissistic schemer who you would normally see as the villain on a show like Big Brother.

Throughout the series Turnbull meticulously lied trying to make himself out to be the victim of every move he made by shifting the blame onto Scott Morrison (even the knifing of Tony Abbott), banking on the public’s hatred of Morrison from his time as amateur ukulele player.

Although this plot did fall apart for the self-declared ‘young hero’, as the show also spoke to everyone else in the party who all said that as far as they know, Scott Morrison did not secretly appoint himself as Malcolm Turnbull. Many in the party also called Turnbull a two-faced bully who takes cheap shots to belittle people, something Turnbull denied before going on to take cheap shots at a man’s weight. 

The most embarrassing moment for Turnbull was during the section about the leadership spill against him, where he described the leadership spills as “madness” and “terrorism”. Implying that he himself is a terrorist! SOMEONE LOCK HIM UP!

The next character is Scott Morrison, a classic smug prick style villain like you would see on My Kitchen Rules. Even down to the love of curry and connections to Aussie Qanon figures.

Scott Morrison has mastered the reality tv version of gaslighting, specifically the part where you say awfully offensive things and then pretend that isn’t what you were saying at all and blame everyone else for ‘misinterpreting’ the thing you directly said. From “I don’t hold a hose” to “it’s not a race” and “met with bullets”, the fault of the statements causing upset is actually on us, the audience. This is according to a guy who wants us to like him.

His main weakness during the interviews is his poker face. Not only is he a terrible liar, but having to sit through hours of that fucking smirk makes you hate the douchebag even more than the original lies did, desperately hoping for Grace Tame to come out of no where and side eye him.

Luckily for Scott though, the interviewers didn’t hold his feet to the fire regarding any of his controversies, since as we all know the moment there is fire he would have fucked off on the nearest Jetstar flight to Hawaii.

The next main character was Barnaby Joyce, who was this show’s version of the drunk creepy dude on a dating show who the producers organise to have a restraining order in place to keep him away from the bachelorette.

This is a man who thought he was above the rules. When asked for one word answers, he would stumble together a full sentence. When asked by his bosses if he was sleeping with his junior employee, he would lie. When getting in trouble for that lie because of basic workplace standards, he went on a belligerent rant about how the ‘bonk ban’ rules are a grand conspiracy to oust him to set up for the ousting of the man who created the rules.

This throbbing dickhead messily stumbled his way through the interviews like it was a challenge to sit on a planter box.

The last main character was Tony Abbott, who as previously mentioned chose not to appear on the show and is only spoken about in stories from other perspectives. Leaving us judging him solely based on stories like Malcolm Turnbull describing the time the Abbott told him to “Fuck off”. As such Tony Abbott comes out of the series looking by far the best.

All and all, the show does what it wants to do well, although it is very slow in its delivery and skips most of the important parts of the period in Australian politics. As far as a rating, I give the show about Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison a rating of 3 cunts out of 5.

If you want to hear more from The Chaser breaking down ABC’s Nemesis. Listen to Dom Knight and John Delmenico going through some of the highlights of the series on The Chaser Report podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your podcast app of choice.

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