We don’t know about you, but when Team Must think about rom-coms, our minds instantly go back to the 90s. Hugh Grant and his floppy hair, grand romantic gestures and those still slightly grainy lenses capturing a woman and a man being mean to each other until they eventually give in and fall in love. They just don’t make them like they used to. But luckily, in the case of this one, they sometimes make them better.
This romantic comedy series by Mae Martin does exactly what it says on the tin – it makes you Feel Good. The semi-autobiographical series is now on its second season, and it once again has us feeling all fuzzy inside as we watch young, fictional Mae in the throes of love with her girlfriend George (Charlotte Ritchie). It’s got everything you want from a romance story – the intense, near obsessive phase at the beginning where everything is as terrifying as it is exciting, the flirty banter that borders on teasing but is grounded in admiration and attraction, and that weird spot when it stops being just fun, casual dating, and starts to become serious. And for these two it’s not just as simple as making sure they like dogs as much as you do, and that they also have an appreciation for trashy reality TV – George hasn’t dated a woman before and is daunted by the prospect of introducing Mae to her parents, whilst Mae is battling an addiction problem and struggling to stay on the right path.
So this is a very millennial romantic comedy, with a healthy dose of heartbreak and sadness, just how they like it. But thanks to brilliant writing and acting by Martin, the series never veers into the bleak – the chemistry between the pair is palpable, and their comic timing is bang on. The characters, too, are well-rounded and complex, including her neurotic mother played by Lisa Kudrow, who occasionally pops up to prod at her daughter and deliver a wisecrack or two.
The series is consistently funny, laughing at the highs and the utter disasters of young, queer love with emotional intelligence and lightness. It’s empathetic and kind, opting for a tone of hope and laughter over doom and gloom, something that we’re always grateful for. And we think this is the perfect watch after sitting through one too many gritty crime dramas – It’s a palette cleanser, with short six-part series made up of 25 minute episodes, you’ll easily burn your way through a season in a night.
The critics have been loving Feel Good, and it has us wondering why this show hasn’t been more talked about. Lucy Mangan in The Guardian gave the first series a full five stars, saying: “It’s not only an immaculately written and paced piece of work and a properly funny comedy, it has also created a delicately and intricately constructed, deeply humane world where people make mistakes but are not damned, and have flaws that are not fatal… it is good for almost everything that ails us.” Variety’s Caroline Framke is in agreement too, adding: “With enough warmth and humor to keep its heavier subject matter afloat, Feel Good feels low-key, insightful and real.”
Season two has had equally positive press, too. Another Guardian writer, Rebecca Nicholson says, “Feel Good is a beautiful achievement, kind, human, as clever as it is funny,” whilst The Telegraph’s Catherine Gee adds that the show, “runs far deeper, holding up a mirror to everything from the well-meaning therapy-speak of millennials, to the complexities of the Me Too movement, to the exploration of gender binaries, to the realities of living with addiction and trauma.”
First shown March 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.