Hannah Gadsby might be done with comedy.
Because Gadsby does it so well, it’s hard to believe that she is done, but over the course of an hour, she explains why.
As well as being hilarious in an original way, Nanette is simply the hardest hitting material on Netflix.
To go into too much detail is to give away the reasons why, but Gadsby explores her coming to terms (and out of the closet), and is something of a deep dive into her personal trauma.
Gadsby left Tasmania when she was still relatively young, during a time period when being LGBTI was criminalised in that state. In Hannah Gadsby’s case, this manifested itself in multiple incidents where she was physically and sexually abused by others. Much of what she has to explore intersects, then, with the Me Too movement, a moment in time that has provided the church with much to consider.
Gadsby is angry and understandably so. And yet, Nanette is not a bitter, angry rant. While Gadsby’s mother proudly raised her “without religion” there is something to learn from her stories about grace and the nature of forgiveness.
A Uniting Church minister friend recently commented that everyone at this year’s triennial Assembly would do well to watch Nanette before discussing key items. While this is especially clear on key matters regarding gender and sexuality, Nanette also calls on us to hear and see others as they are.
More than this, Gadsby is asking those with power, the previously category-less straight white men, to “pull your socks up”. While the material is challenging and this call hard-hitting, straight white men would do well to watch Nanette without becoming defensive.
Personal stories, Gadsby says late in the piece, have power and deserve to be heard. In the case of Nanette, Gadsby’s own story is put out into the open, the storyteller simply asking her audience to listen.
Nanette is rated M and is streaming now on Netflix
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor