Lucy Man­gan Sharon Hor­gan’s lat­est scabrous cre­ationon has sharp lines aplenty, but veers too close to Brid­get Jones ter­ri­tory

★★★ ☆☆

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Five min­utes, two vagi­nas and three exquisitely sharp lines jab­bing you in the so­lar plexus. We can only be in the pres­ence of a Sharon Hor­gan pro­duc­tion. Women on the Verge, her new six-part se­ries, is ac­tu­ally a co-creation with writer Lorna Martin. Based on Martin’s sim­i­larly ti­tled best­selling mem­oir, it is the tale of three thir­tysome­thing fe­male friends whose lives are not quite turn­ing out as promised. As the cre­ator of the cru­elly and ab­surdly axed Pulling (late twen­tysome­things in late-twen­tysome­thing melt­down), the crash­ingly bril­liant Catas­tro­phe (whose de­lin­eation of two late starters ne­go­ti­at­ing a new re­la­tion­ship after a sur­prise preg­nancy con­tin­ues in an im­mi­nent fourth se­ries) and Moth­er­hood (40+, shit bounc­ing off the fan in ev­ery di­rec­tion), this is very much Hor­gan’s scabrously spe­cial­ist sub­ject.

We open with Dublin-based mag­a­zine writer Laura (Kerry Con­don) hav­ing sex and ne­go­ti­at­ing the pa­ram­e­ters of dirty talk (“I’m not say­ing that!”) up against the sink in a loo with her boss. Coi­tus is in­ter­rupted by a call on his phone. “Didn’t we say …” he mur­murs into it, “not bev­elled?” Laura’s face falls as unig­nor­able ev­i­dence of an en­tire and on­go­ing mar­i­tal re­la­tion­ship ar­rives in two syl­la­bles. You don’t ar­gue about bevels with any­one but your nearest and dear­est.

We turn then to a new vagina and the char­ac­ter it be­longs to, Katie (Nina Sosanya), who is up in stir­rups and about to un­dergo IVF. “We do have to get you wide enough,” says the doc­tor, clack­ing his specu­lum. Katie, ul­ti­mately, de­cides not to go through with her plan to fur­nish Ella, her daugh­ter by her ex-hus­band, with a sib­ling.

Fi­nally, there is Ali­son (Eileen Walsh, who played Sharon’s brac­ingly amoral maid of hon­our in Catas­tro­phe), sit­ting across a cafe ta­ble with her ex – an­other of the ner­vously hap­less men ru­ined by the very un­hap­less women with whom Hor­gan pep­pers her pro­duc­tions. He ac­ci­den­tally knocks over a vase. “Oh God,” he says, dab­bing at the wa­ter. “No won­der you dumped me.” But he dis­cov­ers, to his de­light, that she is here – after one too many dis­as­trous Tin­der dates – to re­verse the break-up.

Later on, her friends query her de­ci­sion. “You used to fan­ta­sise about him dy­ing in an avalanche,” says Laura. “You used to en­cour­age him to go climb­ing on his own. With­out his phone.” “You told him ropes were for wimps, re­mem­ber?”

“I was young and ide­al­is­tic,” Ali­son ex­plains. “I’ve re­alised it’s per­fectly nor­mal to hate your part­ner and wish they were dead most of the time.”

Over the course of the half hour, Laura – an emo­tion­ally and au­rally pul­veris­ing friend I would pitch into the Lif­fey within an hour of meet­ing (it is not quite clear what either of the other two sees in the woman) – tries and fails to break up with her boss and gets ef­fec­tively de­moted at work. Mean­while, Katie learns that her ex-hus­band’s new wife is preg­nant (“I was just say­ing how em­bar­rass­ing it was for me to find out your news through Ella,” she tells him. “Thanks!” he says, obliv­i­ously – an­other per­fect en­cap­su­la­tion of an en­tire, if not on­go­ing, mar­riage).

The Hor­gan bones, it is clear, are there – as in­deed is Hor­gan her­self, in a brief clos­ing scene, as the ther­a­pist Katie rec­om­mends to Laura over lunch (she re-ap­pears as the con­temp­tu­ous Dr Fitzger­ald in fu­ture episodes just of­ten enough to make you long for a whole se­ries to be built round her). The flesh on them is slightly flabby. The sit and the com veer too close too of­ten into Brid­get Jones ter­ri­tory – view­ers may long to shake sense into the three pro­tag­o­nists more of­ten than they want to roar in recog­ni­tion – and their world isn’t fully re­alised enough for Women on the Verge to come near chal­leng­ing Pulling or Catas­tro­phe for their crowns. But as a place­holder while we await the fourth se­ries of the lat­ter, the new one of Mother­land (if that floats your boat. I can’t bear it, but that’s pos­si­bly be­cause I can’t bear moth­er­hood) and Hor­gan’s turn as a woman wor­ried about her un­sta­ble sis­ter in Ais­ling Bea’s forth­com­ing Happy AF, it will do nicely. And if ther­apy ac­tu­ally works on Laura so I don’t have to drown her be­fore episode three, it will do more nicely still.

Hor­gan’s turn as a ther­a­pist makes you long for a whole se­ries to be built around her

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