David Farrier narrates the show as he sets across New Zealand, Darby’s homeland, to find ‘the average New Zealander’, stumbling across a multitude of quirky and unconventional characters all played by Darby. It’s evident from very early on that Rhys Darby is a born comedic entertainer, he’s starred in predominantly humorous projects and has even got his own stand-up show. The 40 year-old embodies seven different characters in the show, crossing gender, class, and status, all written with an indie and original edge from the narcoleptic ufologist Steve Whittle and the simple-minded whale watcher Ron Taylor being arguably the most hilarious of the lot.
With a handful of episodes directed by Jemaine Clement, with whom he starred in the now cult-classic series ‘Flight of the Conchords’, it can easily be said that the two shows are in the same vein of humour. Not only do the deadpan jokes and witty puns unite the two but also the self-awareness of New Zealand as a country; not being as glamorous as the States or having the cultural muscles of the U.K or Australia, it’s forte lies with the people, and this is exactly what Short Poppies is about. One could say it mashes Little Britain with the Office (U.S), the former being a comical overview of the stereotypes of a nation and the latter displaying a simple happiness behind their initially perceived bland lifestyle.
It can also be assimilated to Chris Lilley’s ‘Summer Heights High’, moreover, Lilley and Darby as virtuoso comedians but also the nature of the show. The fact Lilley and Darby had complete creative control meant they had the freedom to portray their own personal ideas and showcase their talent, which, as a viewer, is always interesting.
With cheeky guest appearances from notable celebrities like Stephan Merchant, Sam Neill, and Bear Grylls, Short Poppies is predominantly entertaining due to Rhys Darby being possibly one of the most likeable guys on screen. Even if the show’s aesthetic form isn’t as tuned as it should be, it will provide laughs and more. All eight episodes are available to U.K members of Netflix, I recommend you all check out this enjoyable show.