Life is what you make it. I recently moved from a quiet town in the country to chase my big city dreams. Nothing ever goes smoothly, nothing is ever what it seems, but everyday I am getting closer. I am yet another slightly less-than-average girl trying to find her way in London, and in life.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

TV Review: Drifters Series 1, Episode 1 and 2 - SPOILERS

Drifters is the latest girl power comedy to come to Channel 4 and the British series has been rather obviously compared to The Inbetweeners (two of its stars, Jessica Knappett and Lydia Rose Bewdley played love interests in the film). Given the barrage of US imports we have filling up Channel 4 and E4 on a regular basis, I was really looking forward to Drifters providing a much-needed interlude to the sickly-sweet, all American, overly-polished drivel we are usually subjected to.

Drifters follows the story of three girls living in Leeds, as Meg (Jessica, who also writes the show) and her cousin Bunny (Lydia) return from 6 months in India having done sweet FA. Meg is the sensible (read boring) one, who comes back from her holiday to an ex that won't leave her alone; parents who want to get her out; and a job that she hates but is forced to take. In Episode 2, Knappett steps up her comedy skills and becomes slightly more enjoyable - yes, it's mostly typical slapstick and cheap laughs, but we'll take what we can get at this stage. Meg lands a date which ends badly after vagina conversations take the predictable turn, but that doesn't deter her from pulling a guy at a wake, although it seems she just wants to practise her BJ skills on any willing male. She promptly gets kicked out first thing in the morning and then it dawns on her that her life is at an all-time low - but not to worry, her dysfunctional support group are there to guide her through the one-dimensional emotions. Bunny is Meg's naive, dimwitted and 'spiritual' (read annoying and somewhat offensive) cousin, who doesn't really do anything apart from decide she has depression, but then miraculously recovers after a blast of Celine Dion on the karaoke. They are joined by third best friend played by Lauren O'Rourke, who rounds out the cliché as the slutty, brassy one whose sole contribution is having sex and spreading scabies.

From the opening scenes, I was struck by the comedic value - but in the completely wrong way. As often is with the promo for a new show, they are so desperate to pull in those first viewers that it is so much funnier in the trailer. It's like the cheerleader effect that Barney so eloquently describes in How I Met Your Mother - you see a beautiful group of women, where the overall impact is laid out like a clever composition of makeup, hair styling and tight dresses. But if you look a little closer and view each woman on their own - well, they're a bunch of rotters. Nothing looks as good by itself as it does as part of a group. And that seems to be the problem with Drifters, or at least these first two episodes. It all looks so funny and appealing when edited together in little snippets, but when each is presented as a single, exposed comedic moment, it falls flat.

The one thing I did like about Drifters is that it is 'normal'. I am sick and tired of watching shows where all the characters get exactly what they want with very minimal effort, but here Drifters presents the disgusting, ugly truth of being a 20-something graduate in Britain. They are all stupid, pathetic and and says 'Hey, it's okay to have £30,000 of student debt and be wandering the streets dressed as a giant mobile phone.'

I will stick with it because I think it has potential. If you ignore the marketing of the female Inbetweeners and just take it as it is, then I think it could deliver. The problem with British comedies is that they often try too hard to be quintessentially British, which shouldn't be it's main selling point. There needs to be something else to draw us in, instead of just a mish-mash of poorly developed characters that are basically shells there to deliver the punchlines. We need to care. And that's the main problem with Meg, Bunny and the other one that I can't even remember: they are riding along on a well-trodden path of stereotypical characters with no depth and assuming we give a shit. Which we don't. These days, you need to do more than follow the handbook of situational comedy, and give us something fresh. With such a high standard of comedy around and in an age where internet prevails and no one needs to watch TV, you need to provide a higher level of entertainment to make people consciously stay home and tune in. Hopefully, over time Drifters will grow from the sex jokes and tried-and-tested situations, and provide something worth watching. In the meantime, I'm counting down the hours until Fresh Meat returns.

Rating: ** out of 5

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