Monday, July 26, 2010

Small Screen Families

I've yet again been struck by how good the British are at television comedy. Now, as much as part of me wants this post to descend into joke bingo (I ate all your bees! Hairy inquisitive sex octopus with concealement crevices! This is an ex-parrott!), more recently I've actually been thinking about the programs that are less jokey and more about relationships, in a more realistic and down-to-earth way than most comedies.

It's all because of ABC giving me a glimpse of Gavin and Stacey and the superb Outnumbered. I've had to start Gavin and Stacey from the start, having only seen a couple of the last episodes on television, and I'm loving it. The title characters have a fast-moving long-distance relationship and a glorious cast of quirky friends and family. Sure, some of the characters are a little bit too quirky to really qualify for my realistic-tag, but close enough. Similar to Coupling in that sense, where the central couple also plays straight man to their assorted friends.

My real tip-o-the-hat goes to Outnumbered, which is about the chaos of life with three children. What makes Outnumbered great is that the kids are really the center of the show, but - and this is crucial - they don't have a script. That means the kids don't sound like what thirty-something script writers think kids should sound like: the kids know approximately where the scene is supposed to go, and then improvise their own lines. The youngest, Karen, is particularly adorable and full of questions. Ben, the middle child, is a compulsive liar and obsessed with Little Britain. The eldest, Jake, tries to stay out of everyone elses way: he's a big boy, after all.

Now, to get Monday off to a good start, here are Karen and Ben with some tricky spiritual questions:

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