Heartbreakingly honest gem is no ordinary sitcom
There She Goes BBC2 HHHHH
IDON’T know how to stop failing.’ As a summary of parenting – or even life – it’s painfully accurate a lot of the time but not necessarily the sort of thing you’d expect to find in a sitcom. Especially delivered by a tearful David Tennant to the dad (Gregor Fisher) who abandoned his family decades earlier. But There She Goes is no ordinary comedy.
A series about a family grappling with their youngest member’s undiagnosed learning disability – which has left young Rosie (brilliant Miley Locke) with minimal speech and the mental age of a toddler – could be maudlin or crass. But as it enters its second series, There She Goes remains astonishingly accomplished and affecting, as funny as it is brutally honest. No surprise, given the laughs are dragged from the real lives of creators Shaun Pye and Sarah Crawford, whose daughter has an undiagnosed chromosomal condition.
The opener, once again, smartly cuts between two timelines. In grey, suffocating 2007, parents Emily (Jessica Hynes) and Simon (Tennant) struggle to process their daughter’s condition. Emily finds solace in prescription drugs and in their kind, patient son (Edan Hayhurst, emanating a warmth and wisdom beyond his years) – while Simon favours booze and awkward jokes.
Mad, bewildering 2017, meanwhile, sees Rosie’s challenging behaviour bring them almost as much pleasure as her incremental progress in communicating, beginning with her first word (‘mama’, much to Simon’s chagrin).
Their dilemmas range from school fundraisers (‘it’s sports day at a special school, I’m pretty sure everyone’s taking home a prize’) to the technicalities of sarcasm in sign language.
Yet, however particular their situation is, the struggles of relationships, grief, communication (or the lack of it) and the importance of balancing realism with hope feel absolutely universal.
It’s a gorgeous gem, flawlessly performed and beautifully written. Pye and Crawford know just when to pull back from despair with a good joke, or spike the silliness with a moment that simply breaks your heart. I hope they’ll keep going for a few series yet.
Flawless: Tennant and cast