When it came to New Zealand television in the 2000s era, the Naked Samoans were in their bag. Written and voiced over by Oscar Kightley, David Fane, Shimpal Lelisi and others, bro’Town made its way to people’s television screens in 2004. Although likened to satirical shows such as South Park, Family Guy, and The Boondocks, bro’Town deserves its own spotlight. Bro’Town was a pioneer as not only New Zealand’s first adult animation television show, but by the fact it was spearheaded by a group of Polynesian film writers.
Bro’Town follows the antics of five teenagers growing up in Morningside. The first episode “The Weakest Link” started out with a bang introducing the main characters: Sione, Mack, Jeff da Māori, Vale, and Valea who represent their school in a quiz competition. It doesn’t take long to reveal the boys are utter thickheads but extremely loveable. The characters embody stereotypes of different groups of people, but that’s what makes the show funny. And no one is left untouched – everyone is satirised in the show. You have your immature brown boys, gambling single parent on a benefit, snot-nosed rich white people, dodgy pastor, Indian dairy owner and much more.
Bro’Town is silly, outrageous, crude, and topical. In the first episode when the Pākeha organisers of the quiz competition told the Māori show host to prevent the Morningside boys from winning, the host exclaims, “You’re asking me to cheat, like your people did at Waitangi?!” Another one of my favourite moments was in “Go Home Stay Home” where Vale and Valea are taken away by CYFS, and their alcoholic gambling-addict father tries to get them back when he finds out he no longer qualifies for a benefit without them in his care.
Overall, bro’Town is not for the faint or sensitive-hearted. But, if you have a dark or self-deprecating sense of humour, you may want to kick back to this. This show is definitely not something for intellectual viewing, but for light, crack-up entertainment.
“Morningside fo’ life!”