The 10-part series, which began filming on Queensland’s Gold Coast in March, has now had its first on-set paparazzi photos published online, and they showcase a new character of Lilley’s which sees him wearing an afro wig and dress.
There has already been some confusion over Lilley’s motives and the character’s ethnic background, given past controversies following the Australian comedian’s use of blackface.
There’s absolutely no way this can go wrong pic.twitter.com/6W8fBjnqwG
— Dave Krantz (@weskrantz) May 26, 2018
While it has been suggested the outfit could be African or Albanian, there have also been suggestions it may be Lilley’s depiction of Rachel Dolezal, a white American woman who rose to fame after falsely claiming she was African American, and who has since been charged with welfare fraud.
Chris Lilley as Rachel Dolezal?
— beverley wang (@beverleywang) May 27, 2018
Kind of intrigued by the possibility that Chris Lilley might think doing what seems to be a Rachel Dolezal type character is insightful metahumour
— Andy Jones (@halfmadeup) May 27, 2018
Few other details are known about Lilley’s new project, but in a statement to The Guardian earlier this year, a spokesperson for Lilley said, “Netflix have informed us that there are no plans for Chris to play characters of different races for this project.”
Last month, a photo alleged to have been taken on the set of the show in the New South Wales town of Murwillumbah featured a furniture store which had been renamed ‘My Dick’.
Lilley has previously been criticised for his depictions of people of colour, including his characters Jonah Takalua and S.mouse.
The Summer Heights High and Angry Boys creator apologised after sharing a remake of an S.mouse music video on Instagram in 2017, which featured an Indigenous boy being hit by a truck. The clip came just days after a man was cleared of manslaughter charges over the death of 14-year-old Indigenous boy Elijah Doughty, who was fatally run over in Kalgoorlie.
Lilley said the video was “not connected in any way to current news stories” and apologised for “any hurt caused by the misinterpretation”.
A release date or title for Lilley’s Netflix series are yet to be announced.