'Breakfast TV Is Eating Itself Right Now' - McLennan & McCartney On 'Get Krack!n' Season Two

5 February 2019 | 3:36 pm | Guy Davis

Kates McLennan and McCartney of ABC comedy 'Get Krack!n' talk to Guy Davis about how breakfast TV hosts have become almost as famous in Australia as the Hemsworth brothers.

If they weren’t so adept at mercilessly taking the piss out of breakfast television with their ABC comedy Get Krack!n, it certainly sounds as if creative duo Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney could easily have their own mellow morning hang-out program.

“Powering down” after the post-production period on the second season of Get Krack!n, coming to ABC TV and iview on 6 February, the pair are working from McLennan’s house, and McCartney is revelling in the tasteful comfort of it all.

“It’s nice here!” she exclaims. “Big windows, lots of lights. We’re having a coffee, and we have McLennan’s new 20-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. It sounds like a Nancy Meyers movie, doesn’t it?”

McLennan, however, is quick to point out that her toddler is racing around wildly, her plumbing is on the verge of falling apart and her new puppy is so bitey that "it looks like I've been self-harming".

Well, thanks for shattering the illusion, Kate. “That’s our job!” laughs McLennan.

It is indeed. With their breakout project The Katering Show, McLennan and McCartney niftily sliced and diced the cliches and conventions of foodie TV while establishing a cool comic dynamic between the enthusiastic McLennan and the disenchanted McCartney.

Get Krack!n has them bringing this dynamic to the heightened reality of the Australian breakfast TV realm, a realm that is currently in such a state of flux (one word: Stefanovic) that McCartney describes it with a grin as “the fall of Rome”.

"It’s almost like breakfast TV is eating itself right now."

“I was saying to McCartney yesterday, ‘If by the end of our season morning television has collapsed, our job is done,’” laughs McLennan. “And it’s interesting, I was flicking through news.com.au the other day and I was fascinated by how breakfast television had its own little category – like a sub-category within the entertainment section. Morning TV personalities are among the most famous people in the country… after the Hemsworths.

“It’s so strange – when I was growing up, these hosts were popular but the people they would interview on their shows would be far more famous. Now it feels like it’s been flipped, and they’ve become these huge personalities themselves. It’s almost like breakfast TV is eating itself right now.”

McCartney agrees, calling the state of play “quite unstable”. “I’m intrigued by the staff shuffle on Today, and what that might mean for Sunrise – whether it will shuffle its line-up as well. Because that’s what happens in radio. If one team changes, its competition changes in response,” she says.

And to their surprise, McLennan and McCartney have found that the new eight-episode season of Get Krack!n, while taking aim at the typical inanities of the format (the first episode nails the fair dinkum ridiculousness of taking the program on the road to rural and regional locations), may have been more prescient than they could have imagined.

“There are things that have occurred after we finished shooting, and we’ve touched on them without knowing they could have happened,” says McLennan.

“On episode six we have a male co-host, Brendan O’Hara [played by Matt Day] – the former host of The Big Wake-Up and Who Wants To Win A Money – and he’s been out in the wilderness, we don’t know why, and he’s making his long-awaited return to television. By the time that episode goes to air, who knows where Karl Stefanovic might be?”

“In terms of how our show operates, I would say we’re about on par with Today and Sunrise, because they can get quite silly,” says McCartney. “But if you look at the UK, which we do, we do look at overseas shows as well… the UK is bonkers. You can’t parody it because it’s already too far gone. We have a bit in one of our episodes where we interview a woman with a haunted doll and it was almost transcribed, taken verbatim from a show in the UK. They had it on a rocking chair hooked up to fishing wire so it would move, and the hosts were acting all shocked! To their credit, they’re committed. They’ll sit there basking in the awkwardness of it, while American shows have a breakneck pace, often talking over each other. And, of course, we did that as well on our show.”

Pointing out the absurdity of breakfast television is Get Krack!n’s objective, and McLennan notes that “there is a lot of inane stuff that happens that’s kind of funny”. But the format is also home to “a lot of problematic aspects as well, stuff that’s dark and harmful, like Sunrise suggesting a new Stolen Generation – that leaves your head spinning. So our job is to sift through what works for us in terms of the issues we want to explore”.

That extends to the creative collaborations on the show’s second season, which includes co-writing episodes with disability advocate Jessica Walton and Indigenous playwright and performer Nakkiah Lui. 

“The best part of this show is the forum it provides for other people,” says McLennan. “We wanted to create something that put people in a kind of space that you wouldn’t normally see in that space. Not just on screen but at a production level – we wanted to support people telling these stories as guest stars and guest writers. And we wanted to create the feeling that people working with us would have some sense of ownership over the production as well. We tend to do episodes that have a strong social commentary, then others that are so silly they give you a bit of a reprieve.”

“A bitter pill followed by a spoonful of sugar,” says McCartney.

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