16 Sep 2016

JJ Fong on Friday Night Bites: 'We want people to watch it and go: 'Oh my God, OK - this is NZ'

10:02 am on 16 September 2016

The crew behind this new series are aim to influence the mainstream.


Lee (Ally Xue), Perlina (Perlina Lau), and Jess (JJ Fong).

Lee (Ally Xue), Perlina (Perlina Lau), and Jess (JJ Fong). Photo: Supplied

You might have heard of Flat3 before – an outrageously funny NZ web series, described as “Broad City meets Flight of the Conchords”.

The show centered on Lee (Ally Xue), Perlina (Perlina Lau), and Jess (JJ Fong) - three 20-something Asian-Kiwi flatmates living in Auckland trying to figure out love, life, and a roster for buying toilet paper.

According to Russell Brown on Public Address, it said “more about being young in New Zealand than any recent TV show” – and went on to receive multiple international nominations and accolades.

After three seasons (which you can watch here) the team decided to call it quits, releasing one final Christmas episode - guest starring Rose Matafeo and Pua Magasiva - to say goodbye.

“All of us as a team felt like the Flat3 web series had done its day,” actress and co-producer JJ Fong says.

“So we decided – “Let’s make something new - but we still want to keep it with the same Flat3 girls, the same characters.”  

That new something is Friday Night BitesThe series of super short episodes centres on 26 different Friday nights in the lives of the Flat3 girls.


“I think we’ve gotten a lot weirder since Flat3 – a lot ruder, a lot dirtier.” Fong says. “The characters have evolved with us over time.”

Fong is speaking to The Wireless in the wake of news that she’ll be guest starring on Shortland St as a nurse –after casting directors noticed her role on Flat3 as Jessica, a wannabe actress with melodramatic tendencies.

“Andrea Kelland is the casting director of Shorty  and she loves Flat3. She’s really supportive…. And I feel really grateful that I finally have the chance to be on the show.”

Support is something Fong constantly emphasises her gratitude for. The first three episodes of Friday Night Bites were crowd-funded, before NZ on Air picked it up.  

“That belief in us – from TVNZ and NZ on Air – is enough for us to feel like we’re the change.” Fong enthuses.

Friday Night Bites also promises to be a little deeper than Flat3, while retaining the original humour. “We try and write as much as we can about representing diversity, class, and sexuality.” Fong says. “We’re trying to turn some situations on their head and get people to think outside the box with certain stereotypes.”

She hints at episodes centring on slutwalks, intersectional feminism, and “the plight of the Asian male… how no one will date him because he’s seen as ‘non-sexual’, or just the friend.”

Episodes will also feature guest actors such as David Farrier, Robbie Magasiva, and the Asian-American YouTube stars WongFu Productions.

Fong cites WongFu as a source of inspiration.

“They’re just doing the same thing in the US that we are over here - but they can now support themselves to make their stuff in a sustainable business.”

“Our dream is to make Flat3 Productions a sustainable company that’s making online content.”


In the meantime, however, Fong is content to reflect a funny, young, and diverse New Zealand through Friday Night Bites.

“That’s how we want to influence the mainstream.” 

“We want people to watch it and go: “Oh my God, OK - this is New Zealand. This is what New Zealand is.”

*The first episode of Friday Night Bites is out today on TVNZ OnDemand.