Australia Has A New TikTok Icon And She’s A Problematic, Middle-Aged Bogan Called Maureen

When lockdowns started around Australia, 23-year-old Melburnian Lucas and his mates found themselves losing shifts and having to ring up Centrelink. In doing so, they all noticed the same kind of person at the other end of the phone: Bossy, outspoken and lowkey problematic.

Wanting to share his experience with the rest of the country, Lucas whacked a shirt on his head, used a toothbrush as a headset and stuck Post-It notes to his fingernails. He posted his take on Centrelink to TikTok and in doing so, he created Maureen.

“Because of all of us losing our jobs and whatnot, we were all calling Centrelink and I was just on hold for ages,” Lucas told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

“I have had friends who have literally said ‘I swear, Maureen has spoken to me on the other end, she was being such a dog about everything’.”

The video blew up. Lucas remembers posting it at 9:36 PM, and within an hour, it had over a thousand views. Today, that TikTok alone has over 1.6 million views.

@shookranshayyyyme ##jobless ##unemployed ##centrelink ##australia##scottmorrison ##comedy ##aussietok ##fypage ##fyp ##xyzbca ##whitepeople ##covid19♬ MAUREEN FROM CENTRELINK – shookran

The character’s signature twang, gaze and other mannerisms are all a clear tribute to a whole bunch of Aussie icons, not least Kath Day-Knight.

“Maureen was influenced from Kath & Kim because I was binge-watching that at the time,” Lucas said.

“I remember growing up and watching it, and I found that some of this stuff I wouldn’t understand, like what the meaning of what they’re saying is, because I’m an Egyptian-Australian, I don’t get half this. It was just the mannerism and the whole personality is something that I found quite humorous.”

He also cites online personality Cherylyn Barnes and Gran from Angry Boys as inspirations, but not before conceding Chris Lilley is pretty probbo. The name, meanwhile, comes from former Fox FM host Matt Tilley, who had a similar character to do prank calls on-air.

@shookranevery Australian when shopping at Kmart ##shopping ##kmart ##austok ##foryou ##fyp ##aussiehumor♬ original sound – shookran

Maureen has no filter, no patience and constantly fucks up non-Anglo names. She’s everyone’s worst customer service experience rolled into one.

“Maureen’s humor is just things that I’ve experienced through life or I’ve observed, and it’s something that I find funny, just as an Egyptian-Australian,” Lucas said.

“Maureen does say some very problematic things and a lot of it is kind of based off my experiences and what I’ve seen in life.”

@shookran##react to @morganhipworth WHAT A FEWL ##fairybread ##cooking ##allforfun♬ Juicy – Doja Cat

Like all good TikTok characters, Maureen has now grown well beyond just taking the piss out of Centrelink. She now reviews Aussie snacks, teaches students and even works in a deli… sometimes.

“Originally it was only going to be like a one video thing,” Lucas told P.TV.

“But then when it started to grow traction, I thought, well, isolation is here and everyone’s kind of a little bit depressed and whatnot. So why not bring some light to this situation?”

Now a mainstay of Aussie TikTok, heaps of people have started to recognise Maureen, both online and IRL.

“The first time someone recognised me as Maureen, they didn’t even refer to me as Lucas,” the optometry student said.

“I’ve been recognized a few times at work, even with my facemask on. Just recently on the weekend, some guy I was serving came up to me with his daughter, and he’s like ‘sorry to bother you, but is this you?’, and he held up one of my videos.”

@shookranMaureen vs ##aussieicons ##milo ##trueblue ##acdc ##boomerang ##aussiehumour ##australia ##austok ##fyp ##foryou♬ original sound – shookran

Lucas sees Maureen as a kind of tribute to our time in iso. Not only does she take the piss out of the impersonal bureaucracy we’re all having to deal with, but she’s lifting people’s spirits too.

He says the reaction’s been completely positive, and people have even reached out to say how it’s helping them cope with their emotions while trapped at home.

“The character itself isn’t meant to make fun of ‘bogans’ or whatever, it’s just trying to epitomise that typical person in a workplace that everyone kind of hates, but kind of loves because they’re just a bit of fun,” he said.

“While they have no filter, they’re willing to learn.”

But while Maureen reflects one aspect of white Australia, the character is not an attempt to shit on anyone in particular. And she’s definitely not cancelled.

“At the end of the day, she does mean well, and she does have love for everyone,” Lucas said.