It’s a close toss-up, choosing the career of sandwich marker (sorry – sandwich artist) and sex worker. But for Alma, it’s easy – one involves a whole lot less standing up, plus it isn’t so bad once you get over the whole sex thing. Sophie Willan’s stunning new semi-autobiographical comedy is the next best thing since sliced bread, and yet another fantastically funny female-led series to come out of 2021. You can skip abs day this week – Alma’s got you covered.
It’s a story that we are all familiar with; a family living on the breadline, under the crushing boot of austerity, joblessness, and drug addiction. But Willan’s Alma’s Not Normal is an exploration of these themes like no other. Sarah Carson, writing for iNews, praises the way “Willan refuses to reduce the hardship of life “on bennies” to a quirk or punchline, nor does her show revel in bleakness or misery”, and this is exactly what we love about the series. It’s a modern-day tragicomedy which Shakespeare himself would be proud of; a beautiful blend of hardship and humour which teaches us to make light of even the bleakest situations.
In The Telegraph, Michael Hogan speaks of how Willan’s writing paints a “compassionate portrait of generational trauma”, cramming “copious “issues” into its half a dozen half-hours (substance abuse, sexual consent, disability, grief, inequality, mental health, homelessness) without ever losing its light touch”. This is comedy with a heart which proposes that when it comes to trauma, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
“This is Fleabag without the privilege”, says Hogan, real life comedy without the glossy poshness which has dominated the genre for so long. Some may say that Phoebe Waller-Bridge walked so that Sophie Willan could run, because it is clear that, as The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson states, “the future of comedy is safe in [Willan’s] hands.”
This one’s a binger and we can only hope that there is more of Alma to come, as we think we may just have found our new best friend. Alma may not be normal but loving her certainly is.
First shown September 2021.