It’s rare for the first episode of a sitcom to feel fully formed, often they take a while to find their feet and for the characters to develop in to being realistic individuals, or if not realistic, at least bloody funny. So we should cherish Mae Martin’s sitcom debut as it comes out of the gate feeling like it’s a world which has existed for a long time, and all of the characters are perfectly realised from the very beginning.
A partially truthful autobiographical tale, it follows Mae as she plays comedy clubs in the city and near the very start she notices Charlotte Ritchie’s George a she laughs even when no one else does – though the majority of the time Mae’s material is understandably well received. Seeing Mae do a routine is a fantastic way to introduce her character and to set up to the show as we learn she’s recently single, though that doesn’t last long as after a gig George and Mae have a drink and before we know it they’re dating.
Rather than this being a love filled celebration of dating we’re quickly thrust through the first three months via the use of a really cute montage, until Mae is suddenly moving in with George and their very first issues arise. Mae’s is quite an issue too as after a joint Skype chat with Mae’s mother (Lisa Kudrow, brash and funny, and going by the trailer set to appear much more in the series soon) and father Malcolm (Adrian Lukis, who in a brief appearance seems much sweeter and warmer than his wife) Georgia learns that Mae should be attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
Despite this, and the fact George is reluctant to introduce Mae to her colleagues and friends, possibly because she’s not told them she’s gay, their relationship is all kinds of affecting, with Mae coming out with lines like “I don’t need presents, the greatest gift of my life is that I get to have sex with goddamn Princess Diana every day”, and the way they interact with each other feels completely real, I already knew that Ritchie was a talented comedic actress but had no idea that Mae was as well, and is on equal standing with her onscreen partner.
The show contains a fantastic selection of supporting characters who, like in all of the best comedies, get the chance to be funny as well rather than just reacting to the main characters. Mae’s parents shone in their very short appearance but also superb were Phil Burgers (aka the US Doctor Brown) playing George’s openly depressed flat mate Phil, who at one point is inexplicably dressed as a Canadian Mountie but thankfully the show doesn’t feel the need to explain why and is just happy to have it as an odd yet funny background gag.
Detectorists star Sophie Thompson is also fantastic as Mae’s Narcotics Anonymous sponsor who’s clearly a little crazy and hyper and not the best person to help Mae, Tobi Bamtefa is fantastic as a supportive comedian and friend to Mae, and while we’ve not seen a great deal of Sindhu Vee, Steen Raskopoulos, Barry Ward and Al Roberts given how great they are at comedy elsewhere suggests we’re in for a real treat when we do get to see their characters develop further.
It’s a very honest and real depiction of a relationship, from the joyful beginnings to that point where you start to discover what your partner is really like, and Martin and co-writer Joe Hampson have created a truly impressively funny and affecting debut series. The title certainly reflects the content and in these bleak times it’s exactly the kind of comedy we need, and even if in future episodes that isn’t the case it’s so well written I’m convinced it will remain essential viewing.