We are officially at the second to last installment of 'Brits to Binge' - a curated selection of four (completed) British televisions shows to binge on the days the weather (rain or extreme heat) has forced you inside for the day.
So far, we have discussed two shows that revolve around dysfunctional workplaces: Green Wing (a full hour sitcom that takes place in a hospital, but focuses on the staff's shenanigans and relationships) and Black Books (interactions between three individuals and a small, independent bookshop). Today, we shift away from working environments and transition to another type of dysfunctional dynamic: family. Not one family, but two, and how a girl from Barry Island, Wales and a boy from Essex, England bring them all together. That's right, today's Brits to Bringe is the one and only, Gavin & Stacey (2007-2009).
Gavin & Stacey
Side note: Wales is part of the United Kingdom, but it is not England. It is its own country. I add this, because it is a significant part of the show. The different cultures, the way they converse and interact, add the right elements to make this more than just a will they / won't they storyline.
The show starts with a meet-up. Gavin & Stacey connect through work. They have talked on the phone for a while and decide to meet "in the flesh like" in London. They, of course, bring their best mates as a buffer. Stacey's is Nessa (Ruth Jones) and Gavin's (aka Gavlar as his best friend calls him) is Smithy (James Corden - yes of The Late Late Show), who are the real will they / won't they of the show. An interesting tidbit: Ruth Jones and James Corden are the creators of the show. You might wonder why they did not cast themselves as the leads. The show is, about Gavin and Stacey, but it is equally about all the people they hold dear in their lives (their support system, if you will), be it friends or family.
As you can imagine, the date / meet-up goes well for Gavin and Stacey (plus makes thing complicated for Nessa and Smithy), and the story is off and running. You meet Stacey's omelet-making mother Gwen (Melanie Walters), her late father's brother Bryn (Rob Brydon), her saucy neighbor Doris (Margaret John), and her brother Jason (Robert Wilfort) who pops in from Spain from time to time (and yes he is gay, but they handle it like one would say he works at so-and-so - accepting the way the real world should should be).
Then you have the Essex crew: Gavin's says-what's-on-her-mind mother Pamela (Alison Steadman) his father Mick (Larry Lamb) who tries to be the level-headed one, their neighbors, Pete (Adrian Scarborough) and Dawn (Julia Davis) whose marriage is always on the rocks. Plus Smithy's sister, who also goes by Smithy (Sheridan Smith), and the the rest of Gavin's mates who epitomize Essex youth-culture: Budgie (Russell Tovey), Dirtbox (Andrew Knott), Chinese Alan (Dominic Gaskell), Fingers (Samuel Anderson), Jesus (Daniel Curtis), Swede (Daniel Curtis), Gary (Jason Gregg), Simon (Daniel Knightly) and my personal favorite Deano (Mathew Baynton).
There is love, conflict, fights, debates, many break out songs, laughter, heartbreak and so-on that makes this show feel real. Not to mention the many slang terms and expressions that will officially become part of your vernacular as soon as you start bringing the show, "alright". Examples include: "Tidy," "Crackin'," "Hiya," "Lush", "Fair play," "Oh" (to get someone's attention), "What are you like?," "By the by," "Joking I am", and, of course, the one and only "What's occurring?"
Hope you will give these families and cultures a chance. Below are a few clips, but you can currently binge the first season for free on Hulu (the remaining two are available on Hulu Plus). Plus, do not forget to check back next week for the final installment of Brits to Binge.