Network 10 is bringing some much needed crafting cheer to Australia’s airwaves with new program Making It.
Taking direction from US Making It, which stars Parks and Rec alumni Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, the Aussie reincarnation of the show features comedians Harley Breen and Susie Youssef (pictured left and right) as hosts. They are joined by judges Deborah Riley, award-winning production designer, and paper engineer Benja Harney.
Thirteen contestants, dubbed ‘Makers’, will compete in challenges covering everything from sawing to sewing, all in the hopes of winning $100,000.
Susie Youssef sat down with B&T to discuss why Making It Australia is the show Australia’s been craving – perhaps without even realising it.
“You’re going to watch a show that is a little bit unlike what’s on TV at the moment, in that it is purely joyful,” Youssef explained.
“Where I think a lot of shows have drama and stress – [and], that is a part of it in some on some level – I would say 95 per cent of this show is colour and joy and comedy.”
Escapism through media has become a well-worn path for most of us through the last eighteen months. With eastern Australia in the grip of long lockdowns, genuine cheer is often hard to come by, as is the motivation to do anything other than sit on the couch, scrolling through TikTok.
As well as the show providing an “escape from what’s going on”, Youssef believes it will also act as inspiration to find the colour in life again.
“I think it engages you in a way that will make you want to do things like pull out an old craft project or start a new one. I think it’s both it’s both an escape, and it’s also an inspiration.”
Lockdown has prompted many of us to reassess our priorities, and also, crucially, our living spaces. With external excitements few and far between, finding joy in your immediate surroundings is essential.
Youssef reflected, “I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but I’ve definitely been looking around my house being like, I just want to have more plants and color and throw cushions, and I just want to have more light and color in my house, because this is where I am.”
“Before lockdown, I was running around like a mad person, just working as much as I possibly could. Now everything’s had to just take a totally different timetable…Most of it is not great, but parts of it have been really great for creativity.”
If lockdown hobbies have proven anything, it is that the world is evenly split into the crafters, and the craft-appreciators. Youssef counts herself in the latter category.
“If I had to pick between the two, I would say a crafter-appreciator, because I love craft,” she explained.
“I’ve always loved watching [it], like I was a bit of a shadow of my dad growing up, watching him in the shed making woodwork and doing all sorts of different bits and pieces around the house. He was always so excited when we had projects at school that we had to bring home and do anything crafty with it.”
“I’m not great at crafts, which lucky for me on this show, I don’t have to do a great deal of it!”
Part of the joy of Making It Australia for Youssef was watching the contestants’ minds work when faced with different challenges, and the way they inspired one another with their different talents and areas of expertise.
“Harley and I often joked about wanting to steal all of the work for our own houses, and there were times when that was going to be a real problem, because we just kept falling in love with what they were doing,” she said.
There is another element of the show that she particularly enjoyed: “I love the history. We do a little bit of investigating into different crafts from around the world. And I loved that side of it, to find out where all these different crafts came from and the way that people celebrate.”
Of course, no competition is complete without judges, who Youssef described as “astounding human beings”.
“Benja is one of the greatest paper engineers in the world. I didn’t know quite that that was a job before I met Benja, and then to see what he does, there’s just incredible pieces of art that he makes with paper. He’s worked on every campaign you can think, with all the biggest brands around the world.”
“Then I met Deborah Riley. It’s hard to explain this package of a human being. She’s so unassuming and humble. She’s worked on the biggest TV sets and film sets in the world, and she’s not only super intelligent and kind but really, really funny. I think you’ll get glimpses of that throughout the show: it just feels like they’re at the top of their game, super intelligent people, but really good human beings.”
Then, the final ingredient to the secret sauce – or, perhaps more accurately, the varnish on the decorative pottery, or final pom pom on the garland? Her co-host, Harley Breen.
“We’ve known each other for, I think, nearly 15 years. He’s one of the most ridiculous human beings on the planet. Just insanely funny, and so energetic and has 4000 children. He’s just he’s a one of a kind human, and I felt really lucky to work with him.”
“Working with Harley was exhausting, in that we laughed, basically for a few months, just non stop. You know, it was a tough schedule!”
Making It Australia premieres Wednesday, 15 September at 8.30pm on Ten.
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