Jonah from Tonga - Netflix

Banished to Tonga to live with his uncle, 14-year-old Jonah is causing more trouble than ever. His dad takes him back to Sydney to start a new life but he quickly forms a new school gang and it's not long till trouble starts.

Jonah from Tonga - Netflix

Type: Scripted

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 30 minutes

Premier: 2014-05-07

Jonah from Tonga - Jonah from Tonga - Netflix

Jonah from Tonga is an Australian television sitcom written by and starring comedian Chris Lilley. The mockumentary series follows Jonah Takalua, a rebellious 14-year-old Australian boy of Tongan descent who had been introduced in Lilley's 2007 series Summer Heights High. At the conclusion of that series, Jonah was expelled from Summer Heights High. In this series, his father, Rocky Takalua, has sent him back to his homeland of Tonga to live with his uncle and their family in order to get Jonah's life back on track. The six-part series was produced by Princess Pictures and Chris Lilley in conjunction with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and screened on ABC1 in Australia, HBO in America, and BBC Three in the UK. In New Zealand Māori Television screened the first episode on 29 July 2017, but then withdrew later episodes. The entire series was available for streaming online for one weekend from 2 May to 4 May on BBC iPlayer and ABC iview, before starting a six-week run on ABC1 on 7 May 2014 and from 8 May on BBC Three. This was a first for a major Australian TV production. The series itself was a “ratings disaster” for both the ABC and BBC. It was later announced that the entire series would screen at select cinemas in several Australian cities followed by a Q and A with Chris Lilley. These events were subsequently cancelled, with refunds given and the website created to promote them removed.

Jonah from Tonga - Reception - Netflix

The series received mixed reviews, attracting criticism both for its portrayal of Tongans and for Lilley's use of blackface make-up. The series was poorly received by Tongans in Australia, and several organisations in the United States criticised HBO's decision to air it. Morgan Godfery, writing in The Guardian, described Takalua as Lilley's “most endearing character”, but said that he had made Polynesians “collateral damage on [his] quest to critique racism”. Godfery also suggested that because not all viewers could “identify Lilley's purpose”, he was “in essence, acting out a modern minstrel show”. Giles Hardie, writing for The New Daily, described the show as “quite blatantly racist – playing on the cultural traits and responses to an ethnic community”, but “hitting a variety of ethnicities and in doing so lumping us all in together”. However, Hardie also noted that Lilley was “one of a handful of comedians in the world” who “force society to laugh in recognition at an unacknowledged reality and, while it laughs, to engage in some healthy introspection”, and concluded that the series was not “creating the stereotype”, but “challenging an existing one that is found in society”. In 2017, the series was scheduled to air on Māori Television in New Zealand, however the board of the station cancelled the broadcast, saying the show perpetuated negative stereotypes of Pacific people.

Jonah from Tonga - References - Netflix