In the six episodes that comprised season one of Hate Thy Neighbour (available on SBS On Demand), British comedian Jamali Maddix travelled the world, coming face to face with right-wing groups and delving into their extremist views. Seems like there’s plenty of hate to go around in the US, with Maddix finding enough to fill season two’s 10 episodes without leaving Trump’s America.
It’s hardly surprising. Even if you only vaguely follow US politics and current affairs, you’re bound to have realised how deep the division is in America, and how contentious people on both sides of arguments – of which there are many – quickly become. For those on the far-right, who may once have kept controversial opinions to themselves, they are now whipped up into a frenzy on social media. Backed by an army of faceless keyboard warriors (or Russian bots), their hatred for immigrants, pro-choice advocates, Muslims, gun control supporters or any number of other groups is unleashed on a daily basis.
What is perhaps surprising is the approach Hate Thy Neighbour takes in relation to these hate groups. It would be easy to fan the flames, arguing with the right-wingers in front of a camera. Instead, Maddix takes on the role of curious (and quip-ready) observer, genuinely asking the haters to articulate the reasons for their stance and unemotionally challenging them on some of their arguments. You know, the type of civil debate that’s missing from Twitter.
It’s always clear on what side of the fence Maddix sits – if nothing else, his stand-up routines interspersed throughout each episode make that obvious – but he doesn’t push his views onto his interview subjects. He pokes and prods just enough to give the viewer a clear understanding of the hate group’s agenda.
Yes, there’s a chance some viewers might be convinced by the Confederate flag proponent who makes the case that the flag is no longer a symbol of slavery or the evangelical preacher who claims abortion is evil, but if they are, it’s likely they were already on board with that line of thinking. Otherwise, less conservative viewers will find Maddix gives his subjects just enough rope. And then has something funny to say on the topic. As season two continues, those topics range from free speech and women’s rights to border protection and domestic terrorism.
Watch Hate Thy Neighbour on Tuesdays at 9:30pm on SBS VICELAND. Catch up on previous episodes at SBS On Demand: