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TELEVISION REVIEW

She’s almost famous

“The Jaquie Brown Diaries’’ follows the New Zealand TV personality playing a self-absorbed version of herself. “The Jaquie Brown Diaries’’ follows the New Zealand TV personality playing a self-absorbed version of herself. (Logo)
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / June 12, 2010

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‘The Jaquie Brown Diaries’’ is just the kind of odd little nugget you hope some off-center cable channel is going to dig up and share. It’s a satirical New Zealand sitcom about the petty jealousies and awkward encounters of a grandiose TV news personality. A little bit of local fame has left our heroine Jaquie Brown with a rather warped self-image and a tetchy ego. In a way that vaguely recalls the HBO classic “The Comeback,’’ her self-delusions are delightfully cringe-worthy.

So congratulations to Logo, which begins airing the short two-season series — 14 episodes in all — tonight at 10:30. The GLBT-geared cable channel found a sitcom that is better than a lot of what passes for comedy on the networks. Of course, with its rough production values, “The Jaquie Brown Diaries’’ probably would never have found a network perch. Like “The Sarah Silverman Program,’’ it’s the TV equivalent of a low-budget indie movie. But in terms of the script, and the consistently wry attitude, the series puts the likes of CBS’s “Rules of Engagement’’ to shame.

Jaquie is played by real-life New Zealand TV personality Jaquie Brown, “Curb Your Enthusiasm’’-style, as an obnoxious version of herself. She is the lazy lifestyle reporter for a nightly newscast, but when the station hires Serita Singh (Madeleine Sami) to share the beat, Jaquie springs into competitive action. Her efforts go awry, of course, culminating in an excruciating interview with a rapper named Bizzy Trickle. Jaquie keeps asking inane questions — “How many close brothers have you lost in a drive-by shooting that actually turned out to be a case of mistaken identity?’’ — that only reveal her own racism.

Jaquie is like Jenna Maroney on “30 Rock,’’ and Ted Baxter on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,’’ the typical vain legend-in-their-own-mind performer with no sense of how they are perceived. But the real Brown also gives her character distinction, particularly as we see Jaquie at home, friendless and pathetic. The more we see of Jaquie’s insecurities, the more interesting and sympathetic she becomes. She’s never likable, but you do want to cheer for her a little when she finally finds a roommate, Tom (Ryan Lampp), who shares her hunger for fame and her taste in music. Jaquie also forces a friendship of sorts with the station’s publicist, Kim (Hannah Banks), who is as amoral as Jaquie when it comes to professional ambition.

I can’t say “Jaquie Brown’’ is a must-see series. It’s too small a comedy to hold up after that kind of pronouncement. But it’s certainly a kind-of-must-see show that will make you smile.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. For more on TV, visit www.boston.com/ae/tv/blog.

THE JAQUIE BROWN DIARIES

Starring: Jaquie Brown, Ryan Lampp, Hannah Banks, Madeleine Sami

On: Logo

Time: Tonight, 10:30-11