With the hugs and vacations return imminent, BBC2’s new Motherland series has been the best comeback of the year so far.
For a school-door comedy, where a nits epidemic can test even mom’s best friends, and parental one-upmanship can drive you mad, there’s no better-watched sitcom.
I mean, what parent hasn’t had to endure some or all of the following: a) an excruciating, drunken PTA fundraiser, b) passive-aggressive scolding from a smug mom, c) an obsession with the limit of the unhealthy school basin?
But it’s the talented ensemble cast that really makes this comedy fly.
Anna Maxwell Martin plays stressed mom Julia, largely abandoned by her idiotic husband and constantly tottering.
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âIvy is not necessarily the super-spreader!â she moans in a glorious nit pandemic parody plot involving bubbles and flattening the curve.
Ivy was scratching her head at this point. Julia was forced to organize a Nit Blitz party with the Lice Police. The entire cast spent most of the episode with slicked back hair.
Lucy Punch is deliciously obsessed with herself as Amanda’s snob, dealing with her divorce through an internal crisis.
In an inspired cast, Joanna Lumley even appears as her mother Felicity.
Amanda, the “last word of discresh”, said that poor Anne (Philippa Dunne) was pregnant – again.
But it was revealed that Anne was actually a boss at GlaxoSmithKline: a lesson in never judging a mom by the extent of Weetabix stains on her top.
The homeland is littered with these spiritual observations as well as sharp and topical gags that hover near the line but never quite cross it.
“Are you depressed? There’s no shame in that. It’s actually almost cool to be mental now,” Amanda notes, horrified as Anne gobbles up Digestives.
Now on the third series, the comedy has ventured into problem-oriented territory, giving these characters more depth, but keeping it light – and it works.
Devastated father Kevin (Paul Ready) locks future wife Jill in the loft in a crime of passion, leaving her with only two San Pellegrinos and a Mini Babybel to survive.
Liz (Diane Morgan) wants a job, Julia has to say goodbye to her bathroom as her sick mother moves in, and Meg (Tanya Moodie) is battling cancer.
But just as the scenes start to include – whisper it – real feelings, the comedy kicks in. There is one particularly wonderful scene where Meg shuts off a racist and declaimed mom with a lollipop.
Motherland has revealed her heart, but it’s still hilarious. I miss it already.