Aisling Bea and Sharon Horgan are two of my favourite people in the world so it was inevitable that I’d have high expectations for the show, even though I always try not to have them as disappointment often lurks in such scenarios. Thankfully for once it’s a series which has lived up to them however, though it was written only by Bea it’s got the trademark warmth of Horgan’s best work, and also her honesty and realistic take when it comes to just how difficult existence can be at times, if not all the time in certain cases.
The series begins with Aine (Bea) checking out of a rehab centre with her sister Shona (Horgan) picking her up as Aine has recently suffered from a nervous breakdown. She’s complaining about the lack of a Jacuzzi and kit-kats and so seems to be doing okay, and indeed when it skips to four months later and she’s working in a language school teaching English as a foreign language she’s animated and upbeat and for a while you could be fooled in to thinking that all’s okay now.
Unfortunately for Aine that’s not the case, but Bea’s very careful in her portrayal of mental illness and don’t use any of the standard predictable tropes that dramas or comedies often rely upon when it comes to covering the topic, it’s the occasional struggled glance or tremor in the voice a lot of the time, though there are scenes where it’s more obvious that she’s clearly not in a good place. The brutality of the mental health service is also highlighted as Bea reaches out and is told she can’t speak to her therapist but rather needs to book a phone call for the following week, even if she is suicidal, and it’s a work which has clearly been researched in depth.
This is a comedy from an accomplished stand up though and so Bea’s still made sure that it’s very funny though, that the harsher elements are covered in a deliciously self-aware sense of humour, and the two sister’s bickering is especially full of very funny lines. Right now it seems that Bea has got the majority of the really strong jokes but it could well become more equal over time, and not that it really matters. When it comes to the rest of the cast the other actors are strong too, “You’re The Worst” star Chris Gere isn’t given much to do here but given his high profile I’m sure he’ll play a larger part in forthcoming episodes, while comedy stalwart Ricky Grover is better than he’s ever been before, getting a big laugh from his annoyed “I’m trying to fucking respect you here, you mug” as he turns down Aine’s attempt at seduction.
I had no idea if Bea would be a good actress, she’s a fantastic stand up but not ever comic is a good actor (like Stewart Lee for instance, who I love as a stand up but his acting in sketches often made me wince) but she’s superb here, matching Horgan in every scene which takes some doing, and both are appealing and very likeable characters tackling a serious subject with subtlety and consideration. I try not to get over excited with first episodes of a show as many a time they can be great only for the rest to disappoint, but for once I don’t think this is going to be the case as we’re in the hands of Horgan and Bea who once again show here that they’re two incredibly talented individuals.