Fisk, created by Kitty Flanagan and Vincent Sheehan, is an Australian comedy show that aired on ABC Television in 2021. This is a six-episode-long situational comedy about a law firm based in Melbourne that deals with wills and probates. The first episode of the show was released in March 2020 and the last in April of the same year. This is a small show, but it delivers what everyone expects from it.
Fisk Season 1 begins with Helen Tudor-Fisk, played by the impeccable Kitty Flanagan, and her life taking a sudden turn ever since her divorce. Her husband left her for another woman, and Helen’s life at forty-seven has come to a standstill. She does not intend to remain sad forever, which is why she moved to Melbourne from Sydney to start over with her family around her. She has a father who has come out as gay and an aunt who might as well be an older version of Helen.
Helen is a lawyer by profession, and it is implied she never had much experience working in Sydney. There is not much discussed in the show about her past. At no point did she discuss what led to the breakdown of her marriage. Even though she was subjected to gossip and rumors about her personal life because her father was a prominent judge in the city. She managed to get herself a job as an associate with Gruber and Gruber, a small law firm that only deals with wills and probates. Helen was hesitant about taking the job, but since she was adamant about moving on without anyone’s help, including her famous father, she had to begin her life from scratch. The firm was run by siblings Ray and Roz Gruber, and the latter was barred from practicing law on the basis of the complaints filed against her. There is no detailed description or reason provided for why Roz was not allowed to practice anymore. Was there malpractice involved, or was there a false case filed against her? Helen was asked to join as her replacement, while Roz took up the job of office manager and helped Helen deal with both new clients and some of the existing ones.
Kitty Flanagan has also co-created the show, and through the six episodes, she has managed to tap into the psyche of a woman in her late forties who only wants peace, a steady job, and a place to crash after work. She somehow managed to find all she wanted from life and refuses to get involved in any sort of familial or professional drama. It was interesting how Kitty wrote all the female characters from a realistic perspective. No one brings their problems to work, and everyone is determined to make life at work as fun and professional as possible. There are a lot of common traits we see in Fisk that are already present in many other shows in this genre.
Comedy is a vast genre, and what makes Fisk stand out is the not-trying-too-hard attitude adopted by the writers. The comedy is straightforward, and the writers Kitty Flanagan, Penny Flanagan, Sophie Braham, James O’Loghlin, Chi Nguyen, and Steph Tisdell have managed to create a niche around this subject. This could have been any other show based on an office setting. Fisk goes one step ahead and finds humor in the most mundane of subjects – the wills of the deceased. There is a typical paralegal/clerk who is a comic sidekick and a boss trying hard to fit in and make their presence felt. A similar setup was seen in Not Dead Yet, another ABC series that is an office-based comedy show. What makes Fisk superior is the layering given to the story, screenplay, and characters. Helen spends most of her day working because she claims to have nothing much to look forward to except taking care of her dog. There is a brief interaction with her ex-husband, who attempts to be her friend, but she is quick to draw her boundaries.
Every episode of the show involves Helen having to deal with client wills and a number of other issues concerning the deceased. Each case is different, and Helen quickly gets the hang of it. She comes up with the most ingenious yet legal solution, to make sure she wins the case for her client. Helen is known for not taking her wardrobe seriously, but by the end of the season, she had embraced something new that everyone in her office appreciated ( which is a total of three people).
Helen has a platonic relationship with her aging father, and she tries to avoid being overshadowed by his popularity. Helen finally understood why it should be crucial to keep in touch with him because the man had been a good father. He never tries to interfere in her life and comes to her rescue as soon as she asks for it. Her father coming out as gay was also never a big deal, and everyone was quick to accept it.
The last episode of Fisk Season 1 was dedicated to a certain client who came forward and claimed to be the son of a popular newsreader after his death. The man was making this claim only based on the resemblance he bore to the deceased news reader. It was hilarious to witness this man being confident about his so-called ‘legacy’. Helen was able to handle this scenario smartly, even though there were a lot of issues concerning the news reader’s actual family and this delusional man. The same episode also had the firm being nominated for a local award and Roz letting them know about an anonymous person likely to walk in any day to judge them for their work. Roz does not have any confidence in Helen, but the latter tries her level best to make sure she does her job well, including dressing well.
On the day of the awards, Helen’s father, who attended the event with her, suffered a heart attack, and she had to move him to a hospital. To her surprise, Helen won an award for her firm for being a diligent lawyer who did not take advantage of an old client who had visited her with a rather peculiar case involving his will. Roz and her brother Ray were happy with what Helen achieved for herself in such a short time and decided to keep her in the firm.
Fisk Season 1 ended with Helen finally finding a foothold for herself in the field of law. This award may bring her more clients, just like Roz wanted. Season two will be filled with further peculiar scenarios involving people and the wills left by the deceased. Fisk season one is excellent for its simple narrative, which became superlative in execution. I look forward to season two.