• Network: ABC1
  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 5, 2007
Season #: 1, 2, 3

Generally favorable reviews - based on 13 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 13
  2. Negative: 1 out of 13

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. The documentary look is engaging, and Lilley's wildly over-the-top performance as three distinct characters is made all the more funny as it clashes against the reserved nature of the nonactors.
  2. In the end, while its outrageous characters are often amusing, their palate of jokes runs thin.
  3. Thank you, HBO, for airing Australia's outrageous Office-like, eight-part high school mockumentary, rather than getting a lesser comedian to do an American version.
  4. All in all, it's a rich work, full of detail and small moments, and grounded in reality by an utterly believable supporting cast partly drawn from the school where the series was shot.
  5. It is funny in the manner of "Best in Show" or "A Mighty Wind," but much more biting. Although that means there are some truly painful moments, the talent of Mr. Lilley, a brilliant mimic, is a divine salve.
  6. 80
    Lilley's script and performances are rife with recognizable personalities, neuroses and human absurdities.
  7. 80
    The nonfictional veneer feels authentic, and so does Lilley's talent.
  8. 80
    The only bad thing about Summer Heights High is that it makes a lot of American comedies look pathetically unoriginal and lackluster by comparison.
  9. Much as I admire Lilley's ability to pull off a sort of one-man Christopher Guest movie, only one of the three Summer Heights High leads is funny on a consistent basis.
  10. 40
    It’s easy to admire Mr. Lilley’s writing and performing talent, and some jokes work anywhere. But if he’s interested in really connecting with audiences here--something HBO probably has in mind for the future--he needs to do some more research.
  11. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Cultural distinctions notwithstanding (will U.S. viewers double over at a Tongan accent?), Summer Heights High seldom rises above silliness and mostly proves just plain irritating.
  12. 75
    A funny/sad Office-style mockumentary depicting a year in the life of an Australian public high school, this wildly talented writer-star loves making you squirm (à la Gervais) while submerging himself inside the skin of characters so diverse (à la Ullman) you can hardly believe it's the same guy.
  13. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Summer Heights High is not a perfect comedy, and those offended by crossed boundaries will feel their boundaries crossed. But it's a welcome, if sometimes familiar, HBO comedy while we wait for the return of "Flight of the Conchords."
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 58 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 52 out of 58
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 58
  3. Negative: 6 out of 58
  1. Apr 22, 2011
    An exceptionally funny and clever Australian comedy series by master comedian Chris Lilley.
  2. Kellym.
    Dec 3, 2008
    So smart and funny.
  3. Jul 23, 2014
    Even though I liked Chris Lilley’s effort on Ja’mie’s stand-alone show, I felt like Chris Lilley needs to do a show with ensemble charactersEven though I liked Chris Lilley’s effort on Ja’mie’s stand-alone show, I felt like Chris Lilley needs to do a show with ensemble characters again.

    Summer Heights High was the show that launched Chris Lilley’s career outside Australia.

    First of these reasons was the sarcastic harsh humor. The humor was served well thanks to Chris Lillley’s performances as Mr. G, Jonah and Ja’mie. Sometimes, I forgot that these three characters were played by a same man.

    Second of these reasons was the school setting. This isn’t like any typical high school dramas/comedies shown right now. It’s different, realistic and over the top.

    Third of these reasons was the character driven plot. It keeps us interested on what happens next to Ja’mie’s journey as an exchange student and Mr. G’s journey to make the best musical he has ever made.

    One minor drawback was Jonah. He was very annoying and unfunny. He doesn’t have a proper plot to be honest. But Chris Lilley did a good job portraying him that I forgot it was Chris Lilley playing Jonah. So this can be easily overlooked.

    Summer Heights High was the reason why Chris Lilley’s fame has expanded outside Australia thanks to its humor, characters, plot and Chris Lilley’s performance.
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