People who are already mums and dads are likely going to watch this show with a knowing smirk, relating to these frazzled parents and their child-rearing woes. However, for those who haven’t yet dipped their toe in the reproductive pool, this could have you going one of two ways – into a broody daydream filled with rattles and talcum powder, or, more likely, to the doctor’s surgery to chat about contraceptive options with an efficacy rate of above 99.9%. We reckon it’s more likely to be the latter.
Because these two don’t make it look easy. This Sky comedy stars Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard as Paul and Ally, who have two young kids, Luke and Ava. They’ve got the common parenting issue of being too tired to deal with their kids’ many problems, like not being able to sleep, bad reports and the school production of Robin Hood, and then as they get older in season two, wanting a phone and not being bothered to pick their little sister up from school. It’s the standard set up for a sitcom where we laugh as the middle-class mum quaffs glass after glass of sauvy b, crying about how tired she is whilst hubby next to her is emotionally devoid and can’t understand what all the fuss is about.
If parenting comedy is your thing, take a trip to Motherland
But this one is breaking the mould. Hubby Paul has done the opposite of checking out, and is instead absolutely furious and prone to bouts of anger that make him scream at his kids to get the fuck out, and calling the baby a prick when he cries in the night. And when asked whether she’s happy, rather than pulling out that British stiff upper lip and saying, “yep, good thanks,” Ally says, “who is happy with two kids under seven?” Good point.
That’s what’s so refreshing about this comedy – written by Simon Blackwell and Chris Addison, it’s very self-aware, and doesn’t go along with the twee clichés that we see from other sitcoms about family life. It’s sweary, angry and brutally honest about the fact, that though we might try to be the picture-perfect parent, sometimes it’s easier to just lose your shit instead. Saying that, this might not be show for the woke, millennial parents who believe in cleansing their children’s chakras and never raising your voice above 60 decibels. But for your average, exhausted mum or dad, who tries their best not to call their kid a knobhead when they pee all over the toilet seat, this will be a right gem.
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Clearly Carol Midgley of The Times is one of those parents, as she says this show is “terrific: dark, fresh, brutal, funny, a little twisted (always a good thing) and very sweary.” She even goes so far as to say that this “this makes Motherland look benign. Crucially, it never felt for a moment that these children were in danger or unloved.” And it’s more of the same in season two, which The Telegraph’s Ed Power says is an “ode to ire, it championed the vanishing art of blowing a fuse.” He continues: “The propulsive force throughout was Freeman. With clenched teeth and twitching-eyes, he was the ideal delivery mechanism for a comedy constructed on awkwardness and fraying tempers. Both funny and searingly truthful.”
However, The Independent’s Sean O’Grady isn’t quite as sure what to make of it, saying “It’ll amuse, though it’ll never make you LOL. It’s intriguing, without being compelling. The writing is sharp and witty, sardonic and ironic, but amid the perfectly formed wisecracks and zingers, the dialogue falls short of being believable.”
First shown March 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing the play button on the show image, or by clicking here.