Nine’s new show ‘Here Come The Habibs’ kicks off tonight, and while viewer reactions were initially outraged, co-head of drama Andy Ryan said it’s worth the risk.
It’s no surprise to anybody that social media is a breeding ground for a bit of controversy, and Ryan said the team behind The Habibs expected this when they launched their sneak peeks across TV, digital and social media.
In case you missed some of this, here’s a recap:
— Here Come The Habibs (@TheHabibs) February 8, 2016
— Here Come The Habibs (@TheHabibs) February 8, 2016
“A comedy is always launched into quite a hostile environment,” Ryan told B&T. “It’s really crucial to get it right – we can’t afford to get it wrong.”
“There’s no prizes for being risk averse in drama commissioning, and it’s encumbered upon myself and upon Nine to commission shows that are topical and tell new stories.
“We wanted to branch out with a refreshing new genre of comedy. There’s no point launching a vanilla show.
“The show is called ‘Here Come The Habibs’ not ‘Here Come The Smiths’.”
Ryan told B&T that what sets The Habibs apart from your “run-of-the-mill pitch” was that it was “topical” and an area that “hasn’t been explored in TV yet”.
He also said that when comedians and writers of the show Rob Shehadie and Tahir Bilgic approached Nine with the pitch around 15 months ago, they felt it was the right time to dive in with this “fish out of water situation”.
“Channel Nine hasn’t done a scripted comedy since 2001,” Ryan said. “It’s a risky proposition to commission a comedy and there’s a million reasons to say no.
“But we felt the time was right.
“We are inundated with extremely high quality comedy from the US and UK,” he added, saying Australia was “spoilt” in that regard. “So to launch something like that in Australia we had to make is as good as those shows.”
“We weren’t surprised that there was some controversy,” Ryan added. “But we were taken aback at how judgemental the Twitterati were based on just the previews.”
“People really really wanted to pre-judge the show with no information or knowledge at all.”
And he wasn’t wrong, with social media going hard with its criticisms.
I thought people were joking about Here Come The Habibs but no Nine are an even bigger pile of garbage than I’d previously thought.
— Hell Toupee (@HeelSimba) February 1, 2016
Who on Channel 9 gave the green light for ‘Here Come The Habibs’? It looks like Fat Pizza reheated! #AUSvIND
— Dave Carnovale (@davecarnovale) January 29, 2016
So @Channel9. Here Come the Habibs. Do I need to tell you it’s going to flop, or is someone who’s getting paid going to figure that out?
— Robert Beaver (@Robert__Beaver) January 29, 2016
Just saw extended ad for ‘here come the habibs’. The Mitchell pierce video is no longer the most abhorrent thing shown on channel 9 tonight.
— Kay (@kholly265) January 27, 2016
— Andy Thompson (@SweatyJester) January 26, 2016
Ryan said only six episodes have been commissioned to start with, in a similar style to comedies in the UK that only kick off with around six to eight episodes.
“I’m too superstitious to predict numbers,” he told B&T. “But the overnight numbers will only be a part of it. We expect to see a big audience on time shift and online through 9Now.”
“We’re getting a sense of the show going big online, with a subset of the audience finding the show through non-traditional means.”
Ryan said he’s confident in how the show will be received, particularly based on the way reviews have “completely turned around” since exclusive screenings have been held in the last week, calling it “funny, relevant and timely”, according to Ryan.
You can catch ‘Here Come The Habibs’ tonight on Nine at 8.30pm and make up your own minds.
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