Brassic’s the latest comedy from Sky who are rather quietly producing a lot of great shows of late. Partially based on Joseph Gilgun’s upbringing in interviews he’s stated that some of it’s true, some of it loosely based on what happened, and some of it’s made up and he can’t state which is which as he’d get in to trouble if people knew what his teenage and twentysomething years were really like. That’s understandable too as in this first episode he and his friends nick a car, steal a Shetland Pony and have a sideline in growing marijuana.
It sets out it’s premise from the get go as there’s a Trainspotting-esque “Fuck the middle class, fuck the guardian” rant right at the beginning which stresses that everyone’s got the wrong idea about kids who grow up in a town which offers them no prospects, as they’re not victims, they’re just finding a way to survive and having a laugh with their mates. This takes place as a police car chases them, and they discuss whether or not Gilgun’s character Vince losing his hair or not, and it’s all upbeat and daft stuff though the series has a more serious side to it as well.
This is mostly displayed when it tackles Vince’s bipolar condition, something which Gilgun suffers from in real life as well and which he apparently felt was important to portray realistically and carefully too. It appears he’s done a great job from the reviews I’ve read and it makes the show much more intriguing as it’s not just all a bunch of lads mucking about and pulling off various schemes. Also on the slightly more dramatic side is the relationship between Vince’s friend Dylan (Damien Molony) and his girlfriend Erin (Michelle Keegan) which is a bit on the rocky side of things as she aspires to have better things in life and worries that his friendship with Vince will see him end up in prison.
Still, the majority of it covers the daft hijinks the men get up to as they attempt to steal the Shetland Pony, getting shot at by a farmer and ending up being knocked unconscious thanks to an accidentally broken bottle of chloroform they intended to use on the pony, while there’s a bunch of borderline wacky supporting characters in the form of a xenophobic farmer who lets them grew marijuana on his grounds in exchange for dodgy favours, a gay brothel owner who joins in with their schemes in exchange for them helping him build a sex swing, and Vince’s psychiatrist (Dominic West) who’s more interested in dating / hook up sites than helping Vince out.
It’s got quite the dark sense of humour amongst the various bits of banter and antics the boys get up to, in one part where Vince is sat on a bridge an old guy passes and tells him not to throw himself off the bridge – not because of any concern but because it’s not high enough, and he then proceeds to give suggestions on the best way to kill yourself, and Vince’s discussions of his condition are often intentionally bleakly funny too, so the humour is pleasingly varied most of the time and it’s a far smarter show than it could have been.
On the downside the laddish element is sometimes a bit much, and just not that funny, Dominic West at one point shows Vince a picture of his penis describing it as “My todger looks like a dog’s been at it” while one character is introduced with the line “You wouldn’t want him hanging out the back of your sister”, I’ve no aversion to sex based jokes but something a bit more original would be nice, the above are examples of the kind of banter you read online and grimace at as you do so.
Still, it is only a very minor complaint as most of the humour works and the acting is top notch stuff indeed, with Gilgun, Keegan and Molony all turning in the kind of performances which feel very real and natural but still manage to be funny too. The ongoing plot looks intriguing as well with Gilgun’s narration informing us at the end of the episode that this was the moment that everything changed for him, and I certainly plan to stick around and find out just how that happens.