Show + tell: Paul Flynn’s top telly

Based on a Grazia col­umn about life as a di­rec­tion­less 30-some­thing, Sharon Hor­gan makes a bril­liant re­turn to our screens

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

WAY BACK IN 2009, Sharon Hor­gan sloped on to dis­cern­ing screens with her ven­er­ated sit­com, Pulling. At the time, the tale of three dystopic flat-shar­ing friends fail­ing at life, sex and money in Lon­don looked a bit like the anti- Sex And The City. Al­most a decade later, it feels like a rev­o­lu­tion. From Girls to Fleabag, through Hor­gan’s own Catas­tro­phe and un­der­rated Di­vorce, women be­ing a bit rub­bish have formed a pleas­ing new spine for mean­ing­ful com­edy. Men have had fail­ing anti-he­roes to look and laugh at, mar­vel­ling at our own re­flec­tive rub­bish­ness for­ever. This catch-up had to hap­pen.

Women On The Verge is Hor­gan’s lat­est pro­ject, drawn from her fa­mil­iarly spiky, dole­ful, sharp reper­toire of un­sat­is­fac­tory sex, drunken over­shar­ing, lives frit­tered from one re­gret to the next. We meet three like­ably aw­ful friends, 30-some­thing mi­dlevel pro­fes­sion­als in Dublin. Their open­ings are strong. Laura get­ting rogered by her boss in the dis­abled lav of a generic gas­tro pub. Katie be­ing pre­pared for a sperm do­na­tion she doesn’t want. Ali­son re­signed to tak­ing back the boyfriend she dumped, hav­ing quan­ti­fied a life les­son: ‘I re­alised that it’s per­fectly nor­mal to hate your part­ner and wish they were dead most of the time.’ As ever with Hor­gan, buried within the bleak­ness is only hu­mour.

There is a baby ques­tion hang­ing over all three. Re­fresh­ingly, it’s never more than vague. Hor­gan’s spe­cial­ity is for a kind of woman who knows the rules of suc­cess­ful liv­ing and acts as if they were writ­ten for ev­ery­one else. Her char­ac­ters have the shrugshoul­dered res­ig­na­tion of not be­ing in­vited to the right party. They feel won­der­fully fa­mil­iar, like see­ing your­self in the back of a spoon. Bry­ony Gor­don and Dolly Alder­ton do a great, posh ver­sion of them in their books, all wine spilled on lap­tops, lad­dered tights and walks of bleary-eyed shame.

The twist with Women On The Verge is the weak re­solve in Laura (a truly ex­cel­lent Kerry Con­don) to do some­thing about the chaos stack­ing against her, of­ten of her own mak­ing. This is Hor­gan’s writ­ing en­ter­ing proper adult­hood, ac­cru­ing the melan­cholic wis­dom of mid­dle-age. Laura reaches out to a ther­a­pist, played by – but of course – Hor­gan, a sto­ry­teller every bit as im­por­tant to the last decade as Steve Coogan was to the ’90s, Ricky Ger­vais the 00s. What a bloody bril­liant woman. Be­gins Thurs­day 11 Oc­to­ber, 9pm, W

Katie (Nina Sosanya) and Laura (Kerry Con­don) feel com­fort­ingly chaotic


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