One Hour Impressions – Upper Middle Bogan (2013 – 2016)

Hey everyone and welcome back to a long-overdue return of One Hour Impressions. For the return, I’m looking at the first two episodes of the classic Aussie comedy, Upper Middle Bogan. The series follows middle-class woman Bess who, after discovering she was adopted, struggles to balance both the middle class and bogan sides of her life.


(c) ABC. Video Courtesy of ABC via Youtube


Episode 1: I’m a Swan

In this first episode, we’re introduced to Bess, an anesthesiologist with a nice house in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Bess’s posh mother Margaret is admitted to the hospital for high blood pressure where it is revealed through blood test results that Margaret is not Bess’s biological mother.


While Bess is stunned by this revelation, she’s even more stunned when she discovers her birth parents – Wayne and Julie Wheeler – run a drag racing team in the outer suburbs and are just as surprised to discover her.


With most family comedies like Modern Family or Everybody Loves Raymond the first episode is really a proving ground for the comedy where the writers are sanding off the rough edges and actors are finding their feet with the characters. Upper Middle Bogan has bucked that trend from the get-go with the writers (Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope) skewering Australian culture and classes without weighing the comedy too far against one side or the other.


The characters seemed pretty stock standard at first but over the episode, the writers have worked on giving the characters depth and traits beyond their surface-level characteristics. The comedy hits pretty much every time with only a few jokes that didn’t quite land but I’m sure other people will enjoy it.


Pretty much the perfect pilot episode.


Episode 2: Forefathers and Two Mothers

Moving straight into the second episode, Bess seems to take her adoption news relatively well… that is until she shuts Margaret out of her life for not telling her earlier about her being adopted. As the rest of her family tries to process what Bess has just done, she decides to concentrate on her ‘real’ parents.


Bess goes about this with all the grace and elegance of a tactical nuclear strike as she sheds her upper-middle trappings and adopts a bogan persona to ingratiate herself with her new family.


Just like the first episode, the comedy here is spot on with its examination of Australian culture and the various segments that encapsulate it in 2021. However, there’s also a poignant message to people. You can’t just pretend to be someone you’re not in order to fit in. Every piece of you makes up who you are. You can’t change that, no matter how hard you try. All the characters could take this message to heart but Bess most of all.


The second episode builds on the pilot in a meaningful way, focusing on a small cast of compelling characters and telling an engaging story while keeping the tone light with ripping comedy.


If you’ve got a Netflix account, watch this show.


If you don’t have a Netflix account, this is one of the shows to subscribe for.


Have you seen the show? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

Looking for more to read? You can check out more posts here and at the bottom of the page. You can also read my short stories here.

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Have a great day,

-Rohan

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