As funny as a funeral...

By Lin Ferguson - TV Review

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Lesley Manville as MUM.
Lesley Manville as MUM.

There is black, ribald and zany humour in most comedies.

But rarely on the tele is there actually comedy touted as an "observational" watch .

Mum , Wednesday on TV 1 is the latest British comedy from writer Stefan Golaszewski. It's about a widow's grief.

Subtle and slow paced, for some it could be seen as brilliant as they plumb the layers of the character's deepest thoughts and the agony in their psyches, Others would view it as a load of old rubbish and switch off.

I fell between the two.

It could have disappointed because it wasn't a laugh-out loud Brit comedy.

And, if like me, you're keen on pithy one-liners, outrageous situations and cheerful madness it's not the show.

Cathy (Lesley Manville) is mum, surrounded by a crazed bunch of relatives and friends which she keeps at bay with a bitter sweet, stoic attitude, fixed smile and seemingly mild manner.

You soon realise though she's not laughing on the inside. She is seething and grieving but managing to stay as the hub of her suburban semi-detached home with dim-witted son Jason (Sam Swainsbury) and his dopey girlfriend Kelly (Lisa McGrillis).

It's a concentrated watch and at times agonising as the slow pace can make you grit your teeth in frustration.

You could be forgiven for think it was a load of cods but then how many reality shows have you though that about.

Suddenly there's a light bulb moment; you realise there are bits of brilliance in the script, that pop up like a tortoise poking its head out.

You realise that it really is an authentic portrayal of grief and that strange unreal land you go to - and that's Cathy.

She has taken the reins and is leading her family through that land of grief, employing huge strength to hold everyone together.

She just wants everyone to feel better which makes it extremely difficult to watch when she's forever trying to placate unbelievably stupid Kelly.

Patience of a saint that's Cathy. I ached for her.
If there's such a thing as 'grievingly funny' then this is it; sad and flat with moments of unbelievable comic laughs.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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