Can a show about terrorism be funny? Well, yes, when the show is “not really about terrorism, but about a woman who happens to be a terrorist who fell in love”.
She’s a Terrorist and I Love Her is an edgy comedy by Terence Chia and Haresh Tilani, the duo behind YouTube comedy channel Ministry of Funny. The series, nominated for Best Original Programme by a Streamer/OTT at the 2019 Asian Academy Creative Awards, is the first Singapore original series on Hooq, a Southeast Asian video streaming service. The full suite of HOOQ’s Subscription Video-on-Demand series and movies can be streamed on meWATCH (formerly known as Toggle). Users of Mediacorp’s video platform can watch the first three episodes of this eight-part series for free.
The M18-rated series revolves around the down-and-out Jo (Haresh), who enters into a sham marriage for money, only to find out his “wife” (Caitanya Tan) is an extremist scheming a terror attack on Singapore. Cue slapstick and chaos.
Known for tackling social issues with humour, Ministry of Funny uses its cheeky brand of dark comedy to shine the spotlight on terrorism — a topic that is “hardly ever talked about”.
“We always thought comedy was a good way to talk about stuff that is not the easiest to talk about and now terrorism is a big topic around the world,” Haresh tells 8days.sg at the series’ launch party. “So we saw this series as a nice way to address something that is never addressed in the media.”
That said, the 36-year-old emphasised that the comedy is not really about terrorism, and there was a conscious effort to veer away from stereotypes and ensure that jokes are tastefully delivered.
“We kept [the terrorists’ ethnicity, nationality and religion] ambiguous and when we came up with the terrorist characters, we told ourselves we would not stereotype and feature a bearded male. We were going to get female and as light-skinned as possible,” says Haresh, noting that the terrorists, played by Munah Bagharib and Caitanya Tan, are members of an anti-capitalist cult, led by leader Kong (Benjamin Kheng).
“The title, She’s a Terrorist and I Love Her, was supposed to be a working title. When we first thought of the concept, we thought, let’s just call it this and come up with a better title later. But every time we told the title to people, they would tell us it sounds interesting, so we decided to keep it,” he adds.
But don’t worry, the series isn’t all politically-correct vanilla — the irreverent comedy pushes boundaries in areas that should pique your interest. For one, there’s plenty of Singlish, sex and raunch, and the series is not afraid to poke fun at all things Singaporean.
“We poke fun at things like the government and where we can, we insert a little joke about racism, so it’s these little punches. For example, the leader of the terrorist cult Children of the Harvest is called Kong, and there’s a character called Rosmah that involves some sort of betrayal,” Haresh says, referencing a certain mega church leader and the infamous wife of an ex-premier. “We did not make it explicit, but if people pick up on it, that’s great.”