Good new comedies can be hard to come by, so thank goodness for Flowers, the new Channel 4 comedy from writer/director Will Sharpe that debuted earlier this week and is being shown an episode a night.
It centres around the titular family as they struggle to keep their frayed relationships intact through increasingly straining times.
Depressed father and children’s author Maurice is our ‘hero’, with music teacher wife Deborah determined for everyone to be happy despite the surrounding emotional mire.
It’s a great watch, at times as artistically pleasing as it is funny, deftly written and brilliantly performed.
All of the episodes will be online by the end of the week, so here’s why you should binge-watch it.
It has a great cast
Every member of the cast hits their role bang on.
The show centres around Julian Barratt’s Maurice, toning down The Mighty Boosh surrealism (although only slightly at times) for something altogether darker, and Olivia Colman thrives in an all-out comedy role after some serious turns in recent years.
Daniel Rigby and Sophia Di Martino play the 25-year-old twins Donald and Amy respectively, with a quickness and comic timing which really exagerates their perpetual squabbles, and Will Sharpe plays Maurice’s gay illustrator Shun with the kind of comically stereotypical accent only the British-Japanese writer/director could get away with.
It all adds up to a show that’s full of brilliant performances.
You can see the humanity in (most) of the characters
Usually, comedies which descend into all out chaos by the time the credits roll on each episode would rely heavily on highly unlikeable characters rubbing each other the wrong way in increasingly absurd ways to get to their finale.
While Flowers does have its fair share of characters you wouldn’t want to end up making small talk with at a party (sexually charged plastic surgeon George being a prime example), there’s also some genuine humanity in there, particularly in Julian Barratt and Olivia Colman’s lead characters, with whom you feel some empathy at the utter carnage that seems to befall them at every turn.
It feels perfectly bite-sized
At around 22-minutes per episode (the series was developed in partnership with US streaming service ‘Seeso’, hence the American episode format), Flowers is something you can either sit down and watch a couple of to kill an hour, or binge through the whole lot.
Indeed, the show’s British broadcaster Channel 4 has realised this, and is showing a new episode nightly this week, essentially make the whole thing available at once.
There’s a story running right through it
No disjointed episodes here; Flowers tells a finely crafted story of a dysfunctional family trying to stay together through some pretty tough times.
This overarching narrative creates that all too familiar compulsion to watch ‘just one more’, which we’re assuming most people will do once all of the episode are available online and everyone’s gone crazy (and rightly so) for it.
It mixes a lot of different types of humour
It’s treacle black humour for the most part; the first scene of the first episode shows a failed suicide attempt from our ‘hero’ Maurice, and that pretty much tells you all you need to know about the tone of the show.
It’s such dark comedy it’s actually hard to see through it to the laughs at points, and you’ll feel guilty for raising a smirk at some of the predicaments the characters find themselves in.
But there are also other forms of comedy added into the mix, from the out and out stupidity of Daniel Rigby’s Donald, to the charming misunderstanding of illustrator Shun.
It will ‘appeal’ to the whole family
Well, assuming you don’t mind sitting down and watching a comedy packed with swears, failed suicide attempts and constant references to divorce.
Too often new comedies are heading straight for the youth audience, spewing up a whole host of wacky and zany tropes that would alienate the slightly older viewers out there.
But not Flowers, which delivers itself with a subtlety and poetic sophistication (imagine a Wes Anderson film if the kooky director was on a perpetual comedown) that makes it compelling and interesting television whether you find it funny or not.
It’s weirdly relatable
The first episode ends with the world’s most awkwardly cobbled together party, as bottom of the barrel guests are invited last-minute and forced to dance to the daughter’s expressionist piano playing before a fondue machine explodes over everyone.
It’s absolutely mental, and not a situation we would wish upon anyone.
But in between the incidental chaos, moments of relatable warmth appear; the twins’ constant battle for the quickest (and often most nonsensical) comeback reminds this writer of a squabble fueled childhood, and a mother’s struggle for an unwanted hug brings back memories of teenage grumps.
Flowers is available now on All 4 and is being screened each night at 10pm.
[All images courtesy of Channel 4]