I’m a big fan of Karl Pilkington.
Earlier this year Karl broke free from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and made his own show. Based on his highly successful and lucrative Idiot Abroad, Karl undertook a new around-the-world adventure in The Moaning of Life where, instead of visiting exotic locales to see the sites, he’s going to understand some of the most universal and basic concepts of humanity: Marriage and Love, Happiness, Vocation and Money, Children, and Death. In the five part series he takes an interesting look at each topic and gives his very Karl views on all of it.
Here are my thoughts on each episode:
- Marriage: Possibly the most uncomfortable of all of Karl’s adventures he is involved in an arranged marriage (her family was interested in him once they learned of his fiscal status!) and even goes to a “pheromone party” in California. Even Karl admits he forgot completely about Suzanne during some of his interactions, and his honesty actually pretty refreshing. He shares many of my thoughts on marriage: the end result is the same whether you invite 5,000 people and spend 200,000 grand or invite two people and pay the license fee alone. He even comes up with a pretty unique marriage concept!
- Happiness: One of the best episodes of Karl’s adventures ever. He visits different people to see how others find happiness. From pain parties to Raramuri runners and from plastic surgery to life without money, Karl does it all, and surprisingly declares the simple things that make him happy. It’s nice to see Karl with a smile.
- Children: Karl isn’t into kids. I can understand. His face with a crying baby is priceless. Karl’s attitude even rubs off on others, such as a Japanese artist at a fertility festival. His reaction to childbirth is incredibly genuine. One of the best segments is something he brought up on an old Ricky Gervais Show, the “dwarf kid rental” where a couple of little people actors go to a couple who want kids and they behave as children for a day. The couple was really affected and it would make people think hard before diving into parenthood.
- Vocation and Money: Karl’s needs in life are shown to be as down-to-earth as ever. He sees fantastic wealth and asks why a watch would need to cost 70 thousand pounds. How a rich man can buy a McLaren and then be on to the next thing without enjoying it, and who needs a butler in this day and age. He tries jobs from hustling to modeling and tries to define what a true “vocation” would be. In the end Karl’s summation that everyone wants to “sit on their arse” and wealth only allows people to do so in better surroundings is about as good an indictment of capitalism as there can be.
- Death: Karl explores grief, funerary customs, and even comments on religion. Again Karl gets right to the point, it’s the living who need our consideration, the dead aren’t bothered anymore. Possibly as moving as the Fuji episode of Idiot Abroad, Karl shows what he feels is a good send off for someone, how he’d like his burial to be studied by future archaeologists, and even gives a complete stranger an unironically touching memorial.
I was skeptical that this show would live up, we’ve see Karl go around the world, and now he’s not being tortured long distance by Ricky and Stephen, but The Moaning of Life I feel is more Karl being true. He’s more himself, he’s chosen what to participate in, and it’s all about his opinions, not on sites he’s seeing or achievements he can gain, but on some of the most intrinsic and basic elements of human life.
It really is terrific and though it took it’s time to get to US audiences it was worth the wait.
Here’s hoping for Series 2!
Idiot Abroad Season 1, Season 2, Season 3
Karl’s Books: Idiot Abroad, Karlology, Idiot Abroad 2