Review – Winners & Losers
Winners & Losers – Seven – 8:30pm Tuesday – AUS
After the so-called “series finale” of Packed To The Rafters last week Channel 7 have been in promotion overdrive for their latest series from creator Bevan Lee, Winners & Losers. Winners & Losers is the tale of four friends who were unpopular in high school but have been reunited and are determined to become winners. Lee quite revoltingly describes the series as a “charmedy”; part drama, part comedy, but above all, charming. I would add ‘vomit inducing’ to that list if I ever have to hear the term ‘charmedy’ again.
The four girls who were unimaginatively called The Losers in high school are Frances (Virginia Gay), who is now a business woman, Bec (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith), who is engaged to Matt (Blair McDonough), Sophie (Melanie Vallejo) who used to be fat but is now a hot personal trainer, and Jenny (Melissa Bergland) who wears glasses, is overweight, still lives at home and works in tech support, because, well, of course she does. Each character looks just like their occupation and most distinct personality type.
All four ladies are invited to their high school reunion hosted by popular mean girl and alien from another planet Tiffany Turner, played by Michala Banas from Always Greener and McLeod’s Daughters. Tiffany caused The Losers hell in high school and she reaps her vengeance on them when they eventually show up to the reunion. Tiffany isn’t so much a character as a giant cartoon villain created by somebody unaware of how humans interact. She’s only named Tiffany because mean girls are always named Tiffany. She remembers every detail about the losers, and still teases them with their mean nicknames like ‘Gross Out’ and ‘Frank The Lemon’ and ‘So Wong’ because Tiffany isn’t from the real world, she’s from desperate comedy drama television world where ridiculous, unrealistic and repulsive characters live waiting for their chance to appear in whatever ‘charmedy’ Bevan Lee is cooking up this year.
Tiffany disappears around the midway point in the episode, but not until after one of those wacky ‘fantasy sequence’ montages where all of the losers imagine how they’d humiliate Tiffany if given the chance. It’s almost as if Ally McBeal didn’t end nearly a decade ago. Everything leading up to the high school reunion is horrible, repetitive, unrealistic garbage. Thankfully the girls leave the reunion half way through the episode and things pick up from there. They go out on the town, they bond with each other, and they talk about what their lives are currently like.
Winners & Losers is a lot like the Kiwi series Go Girls; both feature a group of girls easily identified by their character types who go about their lives in a comedic/dramatic fashion (I’ll refrain from mentioning how much charm each show possesses). Winners & Losers isn’t as soapy as Packed To The Rafters can be most of the time. However, the second half of the episode did deal with the girls chipping in for a lottery ticket (except for Jenny) and then winning 8 million dollars (except for Jenny). Ridiculous complications will surely arise. There was a brief moment where they’d won the lottery but lost the ticket, and I wondered if every episode would feature a “winning” and “losing” moment; like they win a yacht race, but lose their keys, or they win a bake-off, but lose their pants.
Packed To The Rafters could never be called ‘subtle’ and Winners & Losers seems to have that same delicate touch when it comes to its broad wacky shenanigans. It’s not enough that the girls bond after a disastrous school reunion, no, they have to win the lottery as well. The four leads are all likeable, especially Virginia Gay as Frances and Melissa Bergland as Jenny, as long as Jenny stays away from the ‘woe is me’ crap. It’s a shame these likeable personalities are stuck in a show that insists on throwing them in unlikeable, bizarre, and wholly unrealistic situations.
My girlfriend is a big Packed To The Rafters fan so I asked her what she thought of Winners & Losers and whether it was a suitable Rafters replacement. She thought it was alright, and would probably watch another episode. For me, going by my rating system, everything up until the reunion ended was ‘Ugly’, everything after that was ‘Alright’. So I have to give the show a ‘Bad’ for now, but it could get better. Then again at one point Sophie declares “the losers are dead, long live the winners!” – so I guess it could always get a lot worse.
Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?