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Nakkiah Lui on public shaming and her doomsday comedy: ‘Prepping for the worst is something I’ve inherited’ | Australian television

At some level the line between work and life blurred, then dissolved completely, which was in all probability inevitable when Nakkiah Lui and her associate, Gabriel Dowrick, determined to make a TV present collectively.

The couple met in 2014 on ABC’s Black Comedy, Lui’s first television writing gig, which Dowrick edited. “I like to think he fell in love with me on the screen because of my sense of humour,” Lui says. A second passes earlier than a peal of laughter tumbles by means of the telephone. “He’s just looking into the distance right now.”

In the years since, Lui has emerged as certainly one of Australia’s main multi-hyphenates – lauded playwright, screenwriter, podcast host and the writer of her personal guide imprint. Dowrick is an in-demand editor, working on The Family Law, Wakefield, The Other Guy and Lui’s 2017 sequence Kiki and Kitty.

The want to jot down something collectively was all the time there – and it’s about to be realised in the type of Preppers: a tightly plotted six-episode ABC comedy that premieres on 10 November.


Preppers tells the story of Charlie (Lui), a breakfast television host. Coerced into carrying an enormous Australian flag thong costume for the present’s January 26 broadcast – her pleas to acknowledge the affect of Invasion Day dismissed by the present’s govt producer (Grant Denyer as you’ve by no means seen him earlier than) – Charlie is lastly tipped over the edge, solely to turn out to be caught up with a neighborhood of doomsday preppers.

There are echoes of the finale of Get Krackin’, which Lui co-wrote, that featured a searing monologue from Miranda Tapsell towards the racism stoked by breakfast TV. “I did not expect that final episode … to be as controversial as it was. I got a lot of hate mail over that, I got people sending stuff to my home,” says Lui. “For like two years, any time there was an op-ed about it … I would get a barrage of insults, calling me names. I think part of it for me was like, can I survive this?”

Writing Charlie, she drew from this expertise: “What is it like to survive that type of public shaming?”

Sophie (Brooke Satchwell) with breakfast TV host Charlie (Nakkiah Lui) after she is coerced into wearing an Australian flag thong costume for the show’s January 26 broadcast.
Sophie (Brooke Satchwell) with breakfast TV host Charlie (Nakkiah Lui) in an Australian flag thong costume. Photograph: Noel Mclaughlin

The curiosity in prepping, in the meantime, started with actuality TV. “A couple of years ago, I got really into watching Doomsday Preppers, Doomsday Bunkers, just all of those kinds of shows,” Lui says. “And then I started spending a bit of time on forums. It was, like, a real descent.”


On one stage, it was pure fascination, however there was additionally a deeper pull. “Being a First Nations person … that idea of survival and prepping for the worst, and survival being part of your history and this value you hold. For me, that’s definitely something I’ve inherited,” says Lui.

For Dowrick, prepping provided virtually infinite prospects for storytelling. “I always loved that within the subculture of doomsday prepping, you’ve got all of these different points of view, in terms of how someone might believe the world could end. Environmental catastrophe, economic shutdown, you know, even dopey stuff like zombies or whatever. Asteroids, Christian rapture … ”


This spectrum of destruction is embodied by the ensemble of preppers assembled for the sequence and performed by Meyne Wyatt, Ursula Yovich, Chum Ehelepola, Aaron McGrath and Eryn Jean Norvill. The group is led by Monty, an element written for Jack Charles. “It amazes me that no one has put Jack Charles in a comedy before,” says Lui. “He’s just so funny.”

Preppers co-writers Nakkiah Lui and her partner Gabriel Dowrick on the set of the TV show.
Nakkiah Lui on set with her associate and Preppers co-writer Gabriel Dowrick. Photograph: Noel McLaughlin

Preppers is a skilful balancing act, a laugh-out-loud comedy that by no means shies away from the seriousness at its coronary heart: First Nations individuals already confronted a genocide, so why wouldn’t they be ready for something?

Nailing the tone required a whole lot of rewriting. “We went back and forth on a lot of these things, right up until the edit,” Dowrick says. “Like, how hard can you hit an idea and not make someone feel too uncomfortable that they’re not going to laugh when you come back out of that?”

“We would pull out the storyboard at like 9pm and yell at each other that the joke wasn’t funny and try and make a better joke,” says Lui. Or they’d exit for a pleasant dinner and “next minute we’d just be talking about the script”.

“But in a way we both are really lucky that we love what we do. There’s kind of nothing I’d rather be talking about sometimes than the story that I’m playing with in my brain,” says Lui, who directs her subsequent remark to Dowrick: “I think it might be the same for you.”

(L-R) Meyne Wyatt, Chum Ehelepola, Ursula Yovich, Aaron McGrath, Jack Charles and Nakkiah Lui in episode four of Preppers.
(L-R) Meyne Wyatt, Chum Ehelepola, Ursula Yovich, Aaron McGrath, Jack Charles and Nakkiah Lui in Preppers. Photograph: Noel Mclaughlin

Lui says Dowrick was “a great white ally” throughout the course of, bolstering her confidence {that a} mainstream comedy viewers would stick with them by means of the moments of seriousness and observe them again to the humorous.

“Because you’re so emotionally invested in it, especially around the stolen generation content. Or, you know, finding the bones of the colonial murder. Sorry, those are just really odd sentences,” she says. “But he was really great at coming in and … being like, nah fuck it, it’s a good idea. They can understand it. People will listen, and it’s going to make it funny and good.”

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