Fisk is a quick-witted, fast-paced legal workplace comedy that is hilariously relatable and should absolutely be your next laugh-out-loud bingeworthy watch.
If you’ve ever found yourself feeling like you’re living and working in a world full of idiots, you’re not alone. Plenty of us feel this way, and that’s precisely why you should spend some holiday time getting into the Australia-based workplace comedy Fisk. Quick-witted and fast-paced, Fisk focuses on a high-end contracts lawyer who’s forced to take a job at a shabby, suburban law firm when her marriage and job end, and she finds herself interacting with idiots. Here’s what you need to know about the hilariously relatable comedy before making Fisk your next laugh-out-loud binge-watch.
Helen Tudor-Fisk (Kitty Flanagan, of Utopia) has had it with people and their stupidity. She’s not a fan, and it shows in 95% of her interactions, regardless of whether they’re with clients, co-workers, or her father and his husband, whom she hilariously likens to “a couple of geriatric carjackers who forgot what they’re doing.” Helen is a former contracts lawyer at a high-end Sydney firm, and her life flips upside down after her husband runs off with an older woman and she is subsequently fired from her job.
So, she returns to her hometown of Melbourne, posts up in an Airbnb, and sets herself up with an employment agency, eager to take any job as long as it doesn’t involve a lot of client interaction … or references from her old firm, which she refuses to give. Helen has become what’s known as the world’s biggest cynic, a moniker that pairs nicely with her appearance. She’s a tad drab and has a habit of wearing the same three oversized, identical brown suits, which she punctuates with black combat boots and unkempt hair. She aims to blend right into the background, hoping to avoid people.
When the employment agency calls Helen in about a job at small, suburban estate law agency Gruber & Gruber, her work recruiter tells her she’s a “furniture chameleon” who needs to “lose the festival of brown.” Just as those words are spoken, a co-worker walks into the recruiter’s office and sits on Helen because he doesn’t notice her there. Helen takes the cue and, in true smart-ass fashion, rolls into her interview wearing a bright yellow suit … and is immediately called out on it. Her reactions to people and things are what make Fisk funny, but Helen’s character is the reason we really love it.
Gruber & Gruber hire her mostly because she’s the daughter of a former Supreme Court justice, and because she’s an older woman who will “appeal to the older clientele.” Helen is only in her mid-forties, but again, the response statements like this elicit from Helen are priceless. Partner Ray Gruber (Marty Sheargold, of The Librarians) doesn’t care about her attitude, though, nor does he care about her lack of references.
Helen is there to take the place of Ray’s sister Roz (Julia Zemiro, of Conspiracy 365), who has been suspended from practicing law but still works at the firm as their office manager. Also in the office is George (Aaron Chen, of Orange is the New Brown), a probate clerk who refers to himself the “webmaster” because he manages the firm’s website and likes to use outdated terms in conversation. Roz, Ray, and George are each quirky in their own special ways, attaching to us like our favorite characters from shows such as The Office, Parks and Recreation, and The Mindy Project—even like Bev (Jana Schmieding) in Reservation Dogs.
On her first day, Helen gets banned from the coffee shop downstairs for calling out a customer for being disrespectful and having a phone conversation loud enough for the entire shop to hear. It turns out that guy is the shop’s owner, so he bans Helen. To top things off, she’s handed her first case at work, which is both awkward and interesting. A woman is there to get a clause inserted into her mother’s will demanding that her brother, who makes a living painting art with his penis, get a vasectomy.
Helen tries over and over (and over) to explain to this woman that you can’t just demand such a thing, because inserting such a clause isn’t legal, but she does it in what’s perceived as a dismissive tone, which isn’t really dismissive at all. She’s just being blunt, because she’s clearly dealing with an idiot. When the client continually tells Helen she doesn’t understand, Helen tries her best to get the point across that what she wants is impossible, but the woman doesn’t care; she wants things her way. After telling Helen for the last time she still doesn’t understand, in a great laugh-out-loud moment, Helen rolls up a contract and uses it like a megaphone to amp up the volume of what she’s saying. The client is ultimately offended and ends up storming out, which inspires Roz to do some digging on Helen.
Roz soon finds out Helen was fired from her Sydney firm for … wait for iiit … being rude to clients … not “rude” rude, just blunt because some people just don’t get it and sometimes you have to be the a-hole when dealing with people whose lights are on, but no one is home. Helen is a fantastic lawyer; it’s just that her personality is a little rough around the edges. But as client after client after client filters in to see her, Helen’s personality begins to alter, and the comedy rollercoaster takes off with no signs of slowing down.
The beauty of Fisk lies in the moments where we see Helen for whom she really is: a regular middle-aged person just walking off the hit from one of life’s curve balls. She’s smart, she’s creative in her legal solutions, and she’s a pro at finding ways to connect with her clients. That’s when we deeply connect to her. Helen just wants to do life her own way without having to change her personality. I whole-heartedly agree, and that’s probably why I spent an entire day binge-watching and connecting with the series, then giving it a second go.
While Fisk is inherently funny, writers Kitty Flanagan and her sister Penny don’t overdo it on inflating the show with laughs. Most of the funnies come from the characters to ensure that when there’s a gag, it impacts us more. And while some things about the showmight not fully work—like the Airbnb owner’s grandmother always invading Helen’s space—Fisk is more of a comedic success than not.
You’ll love the characters, connect with different scenarios, appreciate the quick-witted humor, and find yourself unable to avoid this worthy binge-watch. Fisk is that good. If first episode seems a little dry to some of you non-Australian watchers, stick with it. The comedy amps up by Episode 2, and once you put yourself in the shoes of Helen Tudor-Fisk, you won’t want to take them off.
Seasons 1 and 2 of Fisk are now available to stream on Netflix.