Here’s a quick recap for those who missed the pilot episode of Ronny Chieng: International Student. Ronny is a Malaysian student who has travelled to Australia to study law. His only plan is to study, get good marks and make his Mum proud. However, at his first day at school, he has managed to make himself an archenemy: Daniel, a white male upper-class flamboyant Law student (who reminds me of Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter).
The second episode, which aired on ABC on June 14, 2017 and is the second six follow-up episodes to last year’s pilot, focused mainly on two things: national sports and group assignments (which was literally every student’s archenemy – local and international alike). It spent a good two minutes at the beginning to explain the rules of Australian football — perhaps as a means of educating the international students who may be tuning in.
What I love about this episode is how they linked this Australian national sport and another popular sport in Asia: badminton, or jianzi, or capteh, or da cau, or “Asian feathery bullshit”, depending on whether you came from China, Malaysia, Vietnam, or you’re just being a jerk as Daniel was.
The group assignment sub-plot added some climax to the main plot, which was about Professor Dale recruiting Ronny and his two Asian friends to help the struggling Law faculty football team beat the Medical students (although I’m not sure about the, “You can’t tackle a player who’s not holding the ball” logic).
Overall, this episode and the whole show has the vibe of a ’90s sitcom, with an introduction of actors of colour and a few different accents (the Vietnamese-English accent is a bit overdone though). I can’t wait to see Ronny’s mother on screen again — she left a very good impression after the pilot episode as a typical Asian tiger mom, and I can see that she will be a strong asset of the show.
Ronny Chieng: International Student won Best Short at the 2016 Screen Producer Award and was nominated for Best Comedy Programme at the Asian TV Awards. In a recent interview with My Melbourne’s Tumblr page, Chieng hoped that international students in Australia “would be comforted” by his series.
“People about to go to uni, they’re going to have real college experiences. You know, before I went to the University of Melbourne all I had were the brochures, and I wondered what the other side of it was. I hope International Student shows what that other side is like: it’s crazy, it’s fun, you’re going to meet new people, and it’ll have its ups and downs.”
Ronny Chieng: International Student, airs on ABC every Wednesday night, 9.00pm. Episodes are available on ABC iView immediately after broadcast.