Brownface in HBO show Jonah from Tonga: Acceptable or Not?

HBO has been a top competitor in providing some of the best television series for the past decade but have they dropped the ball with there new show Jonah from Tonga?

The mockumentary written by comedian Chris Lilley follows a rebellious Australian teen of Tongan decent, Jonah Takalau, as he moves in with his uncle to get his life back on track. Lilley stars in the series dressed in brownface and a curly wig!

Streaming online through BBC and ABC the show was a ratings disaster for both networks, but interesting enough HBO decided to pick up the series after the show received negative reviews.

When is the line crossed between making a controversial satire to just making a mockery of one’s race? Chris Lilley has been known for acting in brownface as characters S. Mouse, Ricky Wong and Jen Okazaki. Although, Lilley has a following of fans from Youtube and his previous show Summer Heights High, it appears that Lilley’s “comical” stints have caused a movement among the Tongan community where they are protesting against the show premiering on HBO and HBO Canada. To learn more about the campaign and sign the petition visit the Jonah from Tonga page at

Let us know what you think about the show and if you are looking forward to seeing it on HBO.

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