The comedian and star of 2 Cents 2 Much opens up about Hi-5 crushes, Ms Frizzle’s wardrobe and the abject horror of The Idol.
It’s been a big year for Janaye Henry. The comedian and actor is fresh from a Billy T nominated season in the New Zealand International Comedy Festival and has just launched her brand new online chat show, hosted on The Spinoff, called 2 Cents 2 Much. Made for people who don’t listen to talkback or sit down for the 6pm news every night, Henry will be joined by expert guests every week to tackle everything from the revitalisation of te reo Māori to the cost of living crisis. So what better time to ask for her two cents on her favourite television moments?
My earliest TV memory is… Either Hi-5 or Blues Clues. I would quite often change up who my favourite was on Hi-5 and I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe it speaks to a lack of loyalty, but it doesn’t feel good. I think most people picked one and stuck with them, but for me it was anyone but Nathan. I would change a lot but it was never Nathan.
The TV show I used to rush home from school to watch was… The Erin Simpson Show. Honestly, it was mainly the theme song of The Erin Simpson Show. I don’t think I cared about the content. I won a CD from her show and it was some DJ’s mixtape, like literally a DJ’s mixtape burnt onto a CD. No cover art or anything, just a disc in the mail. I honestly think she was just doing a flat clearout and getting rid of shit that she didn’t want anymore.
My earliest TV crush was… Again, one of the Hi-5 girlies. I’d say Charlie out of all of them.
The TV ad I can’t stop thinking about is… There’s a few. Those ACC ads where people were falling off ladders were horrific. The drunk driving ones are a part of New Zealand history. But then I always think about those infomercials for a ladder that can do 67 things, or the “Ahh Bra”. I actually bought an Ahh Bra when I was way too young. There’s nothing to it at all, it’s like wearing a very loose singlet. I was 15 and I really don’t know what I was going through there.
My TV guilty pleasure is… Probably Glee. I do feel a bit guilty about it because I don’t trust what the show is, I don’t trust the people in it and I don’t trust the people who made it. But it’s my life hack – and this is just guilt on guilt now – that if I want to listen to a song that has been cancelled, I just listen to the Glee version. For example, I will not listen to Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’, but I will listen to the Glee cast version. It feels slightly better.
My favourite TV moment is… The moment in Schitt’s Creek where Moira is marrying two people (I won’t give spoilers) and she turns around and she’s in this wig that is to the floor. That really spoke to me.
My favourite TV character of all time… Kat Edison from The Bold Type [currently on TVNZ+]. She’s just really, really cool and I haven’t seen many characters like her before who are young and driven but flawed, but still have most of their shit together. I feel like so many young characters on screen are so sloppy and she’s just not like that.
The most stylish person on TV is… Ms Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, undoubtedly. I think the worst version of myself dresses rockabilly – love and light to those who do – but I think Ms Frizzle is where you turn that corner. The silhouette still goes in at the waist and then it flares out, but the dress doesn’t have polka dots on it and we’re not doing rock and roll dancing. I truly think Ms Frizzle is a queer icon. We never saw a love interest, but I am sure she’s queer. She’s so queer coded. She has a pet lizard!
My most used streaming platform is… Netflix. It was the first one I knew about, and also my sister pays for it. I know that they’re trying to like stop people from sharing accounts, but mine still works. Until I’m locked out, I’ll be there.
My favourite TV project I’ve ever been involved in is… Hands down it is 2 Cents 2 Much. It’s like all the creatives on it were able to just open my brain up and look at it and make everything happen. All the way down to the wardrobe and the art department it was absolute heaven. It’s like we took all these people in the industry who are at the top of their games, and I’ve been allowed to let loose with this incredible team and make this really cool thing happen. And I got to co-write it with my bestie [Gabby Anderson]. You know when you’re in year three and you talk about what you’re going to do when you’re older? We just did it.
The TV show that defined my lockdown is… The Ring Inz on Whakaata Māori. During lockdown I was doing te reo Māori immersively full time, and so I was trying to watch a lot of shows that use reo Pākeha and reo Māori, so I watched a lot of The Ring Inz. It’s about a kapa haka roopu who are trying to get good. It’s pretty fun and silly.
The TV show I wish I had been involved in is… Desperate Housewives. My flatmate and I re-watched the whole series, which is seven seasons, across all of last year. It is just heaven. It shifts genres sometimes – sometimes it’s horror, sometimes it’s a romcom, there’s just so much happening. It also helps that the cast in real life are so scandalous. Ugh, it’s just heaven and I would have loved to have been in it. I don’t think I could have been a housewife because they are all so skinny and conventionally attractive, but I reckon they would have let me be a checkout operator or something.
My most watched TV show of all time is… Dance Moms. I don’t think it says good things about me that the sound of children being psychologically tormented is soothing to my brain, but I’m obsessed. It’s just so good. The latest seasons get weaker once that core cast go, but I’m across everything Dance Moms. I’m obsessed with it.
My most controversial TV take is… Game of Thrones is really boring and a huge flop-erina. Too many names. My favourite character was Joffrey, but they killed him off so I stopped watching. There’s just too many names, and they are always talking about each other and I’m just sitting there like “I don’t know who the bloody hell you are talking about”.
A show I will never watch, no matter how many people say I should is… Breaking Bad. All I’ve heard about it is that it is men making drugs in a caravan? None of that sounds interesting to me. It sounds like Skins for adults. I already watched Skins when I was a teen, so I don’t need it.
The last thing I watched on TV was… This is humiliating, but it’s The Idol. I’d heard all the things about it and I wanted to be a part of the conversation and I really regret it. I think the The Weeknd is a bad, bad man and that’s not defamation because it’s my honestly held opinion. There’s a lengthy scene with The Weeknd talking dirty, and it is truly the hardest watch I’ve ever sat through and I’ve seen the second Human Centipede.
Watch Janaye Henry in 2 Cents 2 Much here – new episodes every Tuesday. Read last week’s My Life in TV with Chris Parker here.