The 2 Best Sitcoms of the 1990s

 

I have been rewatching Absolutely Fabulous, and was actually surprised that a show I once thought was very ghey is actually, to use modern terminology, based. AbFab wasn’t celebrating a decadent, hedonistic lifestyle, it was ridiculing it. And as I thought about it some more, AbFab has a lot in common with the other great sitcom of the 1990s, Frasier.

On the surface, the shows don’t seem very much alike, but in addition to being stunningly well-written and flawlessly cast, both of these are ‘comedies of manners.AbFab chose the object of its humor to be the excesses of high fashion and celebrity (but was definitely not above slapstick), while Frasier went after pretentious intellectualism and psychology. But the two shows actually had quite a bit more in common beneath the surface.

In both series, the main characters chased affirmation and validation from their respective societies. Frasier chased awards and accolades that recognized and paid tribute to his intellect. Edina Monsoon chased after every pop-culture trend in a desperate attempt to raise her social status (“a mixed-race baby is the best fashion accessory a woman in my position could have!“), whether it was buying hundreds of thousands of dollars in modern art, or being unsure if she liked the earrings her daughter had birthday-gifted her without knowing for sure if they were designer. “Do you like them?” “I like them if they’re Lacroix.” One episode of Frasier centered on Niles and Frasier’s jealousy that their plumber drove a larger Mercedes. The main characters never caught on that they were the butt of the jokes.

Both shows featured a sibling pair as the main characters. Niles and Frasier Crane were brothers, and Edina and Patsy were sisters in all but the biological sense. And just as Niles represented Frasier’s effete intellectualism in its most concentrated form, Patsy was a model of excess that Edina envied but could never fully indulge.

Both shows set their main characters’ pursuit of status against a family dynamic. Martin Crane was the grounded father of the Crane clan, while daughter Saffron Monsoon tried in vain to keep her mother grounded. Niles and Frasier both had dysfunctional ex-wives, while Edina had her homosexual ex-husband Justin and another ex-husband, Marshall, whose new love was more of a nurse/mother than a partner. Frasier had super-competent, highly promiscuous producer Roz; Patsy had promiscuous, Type-A magazine editor Magda. I guess there’s some kind of analogy for eccentric Daphne and air-headed personal assistant Bubble, as well.

Both shows had an off-screen family member whose effect on the main characters was a source of humor but was never seen on-screen. On Frasier, this was Niles’s “not-quite-human-woman” wife Maris. On AbFab, this was Edina’s estranged son Serge, who was so desperate to escape his mother’s dysfunction that he ended up on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in a submarine doing research on the mid-Atlantic rift. No actor or actress could have lived up to the Maris or Serge of the audience’s imagination, and the producers were wise not to try.

All right, a couple of choice samples of each grabbed from YouTube. Intellectually, AbFab was Id, Frasier was Superego.

 

Both shows wear well 30 years on compared with most of their contemporaries. Extra credit to Frasier for being the rare successor sitcom that vastly exceeded the show it spun off from. Most of them end up as AfterMASH or Joey.

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  1. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Lacroix, sweetie. Lacroix.

    Great post. Frasier was the ultimate refinement of the American sitcom; AbFab was the apotheosis of the broad British sitcom with a smart twist: it demolished the easy progressive tropes  of the chattering class, but made its main character so arrogant, so infantile, so pathetic that the lefty viewers could still hold to the ideas while laughing at their embodiment. Eddie didn’t really devalue their ideas, did she? No! She was just an imperfect vessel.

    But no one makes it out alive, really, except for the sensible mother. Saffie, the Daughter, is the level-headed one who has all the right opinions, but she’s also a killjoy prig.

    It’s a period piece like few others: so much pointless money, so much empty rote frantic posturing, so much late-90s hideousness, so much smoking. Jennifer Saunders, who created and wrote the main character, plays her at full volume, like someone barfing through a megaphone, but there’s really no other way to do it – and when matched with the  impossibly cool and alluringly mummified Joanna Lumley, a coke straw tottering on spike heels, it all works. (A friend of mine is doing a two-hander sitcom on BBC radio with Lumley, and says she is a lovely person, which is nice to know.)

    Bloody abby-bloody-synnian-bloody-Vogue darling. Ah, the late 90s. What a vacation it was, and we had no idea.

    • #31
  2. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    My landlord in Sydney once said that Ab Fab couldn’t have been made in America because of the sheer malice of the (brilliant) show. Which rings correct?

    Regardless, it’s the voice of a generation.

    My first job in Sydney was weekend cleaner at a bathhouse, and the weekly Ab Fab episode was a huuuuuuuge draw for the punters.  Eddy and Pats were like gay men in women’s bodies.

    Edited to add: it sometimes feels as if we’ve gotten too PC to make anything truly funny for non-niche television or cinema. Ab Fab and Little Britain, but could you imagine a John Waters making Hairspray today (I spit on the ‘right on’ re-make) or The Ritz of Googie Gomez fame?  I feel old.

    • #32
  3. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    How about that?  Sitcoms use formulas.  Never would have guessed that one . . .

    • #33
  4. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Zafar (View Comment):
    My first job in Sydney was weekend cleaner at a bathhouse, and the weekly Ab Fab episode was a huuuuuuuge draw for the punters.  Eddy and Pats were like gay men in women’s bodies.

    One of my favorite gags is when Saffy produces an autobiographical play and casts a drag queen in the role of Patsy.

    • #34
  5. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Married… With Children would be in my top five or six, but Frasier/AbFab still the best.

    Best of the early 2000s? Malcolm in the Middle. No contest. Even though Frankie Muniz remembers none of it because of a traumatic brain injury.

    Malcolm in the Middle was great for the first couple of seasons, but deteriorated quickly in the later ones and just turned into the mom (Jane Kaczmarek) screaming at everybody and having temper tantrums.

    The show did feature some fantastic characters though.  Stevie was my personal favorite.

    • #35
  6. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Married… With Children would be in my top five or six, but Frasier/AbFab still the best.

    Best of the early 2000s? Malcolm in the Middle. No contest. Even though Frankie Muniz remembers none of it because of a traumatic brain injury.

    Malcolm in the Middle was great for the first couple of seasons, but deteriorated quickly in the later ones and just turned into the mom (Jane Kaczmarek) screaming at everybody and having temper tantrums.

    The show did feature some fantastic characters though. Stevie was my personal favorite.

    For 2000s, I’d nominate My Name is Earl.

     

    • #36
  7. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    Malcolm in the Middle was great for the first couple of seasons, but deteriorated quickly in the later ones and just turned into the mom (Jane Kaczmarek) screaming at everybody and having temper tantrums.

    Strongly disagree.

    The later seasons were less about Lois screaming, and more about surreal tangents. Like Reese joining the Army and being sent to Afghanistan, and Lois risking everything to chase him down and bring him back. Or the improbable, Rube Goldberg type set-ups of infant Jamie narrowly avoiding death hazards. Or when the family discovers their neighbors throw a block party to celebrate whenever they’re out of town.

    One of the real standout episodes was Lois daydreaming if she were raising girls instead of boys. Another great episode is when they meet the Canadian version of their family, and see what they would have been like without the toxic influences.

    Another great part of Malcolm in the Middle was the trans-generational dysfunction theme. Lois’s mother … played to horrible perfection by Chloris Leachman … was straight on demonic, which manifested itself in Lois being a hard-headed, indomitable control freak. Hal’s irresponsibility was a consequence of his carefree upbringing in a wealthy family. And the kids inherited the worst of both of their parents.

    And the side characters were pretty terrific; especially the German dude-ranch owners.

    I could be biased; my own childhood was half-Malcolm in the Middle, and half Roseanne.

    • #37
  8. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    Malcolm in the Middle was great for the first couple of seasons, but deteriorated quickly in the later ones and just turned into the mom (Jane Kaczmarek) screaming at everybody and having temper tantrums.

    Strongly disagree.

    The later seasons were less about Lois screaming, and more about surreal tangents. Like Reese joining the Army and being sent to Afghanistan, and Lois risking everything to chase him down and bring him back. Or the improbable, Rube Goldberg type set-ups of infant Jamie narrowly avoiding death hazards.

    One of the real standout episodes was Lois daydreaming if she were raising girls instead of boys. Another great episode is when they meet the Canadian version of their family, and see what they would have been like without the toxic influences.

    Another great part of Malcolm in the Middle was the trans-generational dysfunction theme. Lois’s mother … played to horrible perfection by Chloris Leachman … was straight on demonic, which manifested itself in Lois being a hard-headed, indomitable control freak. Hal’s irresponsibility was a consequence of his carefree upbringing in a wealthy family. And the kids inherited the worst of both of their parents.

    And the side characters were pretty terrific; especially the German dude-ranch owners.

    I could be biased; my own childhood was half-Malcolm in the Middle, and half Roseanne.

    I’ll just point out that your “counter-example” to my complaint about Lois in the later seasons is from season two.

    Its the last few seasons where she was awful.

    • #38
  9. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Married… With Children would be in my top five or six, but Frasier/AbFab still the best.

    Best of the early 2000s? Malcolm in the Middle. No contest. Even though Frankie Muniz remembers none of it because of a traumatic brain injury.

    Honestly, just about every child star would probably be better off if the same thing happened to them.

    • #39
  10. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Malcolm was based.

    • #40
  11. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    The Cynthonian (View Comment):
    A favorite Ab Fab scene, from the “Morocco” episode:

    I love the scene later where she tries to eat a potato chip.

    I think it was a recurring gag that Patsy lived on booze, cigarettes, and cocaine. She never consumed actual food.

    I usually avoid sitcoms and have never seen Frazier. When I was in England AbFab was on and I saw it a few times. Much more recently I did watch AbFab the Movie (2016) and I was completely won over.

    The movie is a hilarious spoof of celebrity culture and features many celebrity cameos. There is no laugh track – Yay! I do enjoy a good farce occasionally and this movie delivers. Highly recommended.

     

    One of my favorites in when Edina’a father passes away.  Like when Patsy says, “But is it art?”

    But the end where the two women get hammered and go to the dad’s funeral (they were forbidden by Edina’s daughter) . . . hilarious!

     

    • #41
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    AbFab got me started on Stoli.

    Never thought of AbFab as a gateway drug . . .

    • #42
  13. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    The Cynthonian (View Comment):

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    The Cynthonian (View Comment):
    A favorite Ab Fab scene, from the “Morocco” episode:

    I love the scene later where she tries to eat a potato chip.

    I think it was a recurring gag that Patsy lived on booze, cigarettes, and cocaine. She never consumed actual food.

    You are correct about the running gag involving Patsy. Whereas poor Eddie struggled constantly with her weight.

    Patsy said something like, “I haven’t eaten since 1974.”

    Patsy was one of Joanna Lumley’s best characters.  She also starred in The New Avengers, and was a Bond Girl in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

    • #43
  14. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Zafar (View Comment):

    My landlord in Sydney once said that Ab Fab couldn’t have been made in America because of the sheer malice of the (brilliant) show. Which rings correct?

     

    Ackshully, it was made in America.  An American version of the show, called High Society.  Starred Mary McDonnell and Jean Smart.  Did not last long.  (13 episodes.)

    • #44
  15. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Stad (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    AbFab got me started on Stoli.

    Never thought of AbFab as a gateway drug . . .

    Just notify my next of kin.

    • #45
  16. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    philo (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment): News radio was just fine, but its real legacy is Joe Rogan.

    Come now. We could go on for pages about Jimmy James alone.

    A man so nice, they named him twice.

    • #46
  17. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    My landlord in Sydney once said that Ab Fab couldn’t have been made in America because of the sheer malice of the (brilliant) show. Which rings correct?

     

    Ackshully, it was made in America. An American version of the show, called High Society. Starred Mary McDonnell and Jean Smart. Did not last long. (13 episodes.)

    I was sceptical, but the YouTube videos  are promising!  Ab Fab script actually had input from the very American Ruby Wax, so…(I recommend Girls on Top, which serves both Ruby and Jennifer up delightfully.)

    • #47
  18. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    My wife and I are long time fans of AbFab.  I came to it through The Young Ones, another great British Comedy from the end of the 20th century.  My wife also liked French and Saunders, the predecessor to AbFab.  In many ways Saffy was a soft-Left version of Alex P. Keaton.  We recently bought the clutch bag complete set.  Brilliant, sweetie, dahling!

    I never watched a lot of Frasier, as I got tired of Cheers toward the end (sorry Rob), and wanted a change of mileau, so no strong opinions there.  

    • #48
  19. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Lacroix, sweetie. Lacroix.

    Great post. Frasier was the ultimate refinement of the American sitcom; AbFab was the apotheosis of the broad British sitcom with a smart twist: it demolished the easy progressive tropes of the chattering class, but made its main character so arrogant, so infantile, so pathetic that the lefty viewers could still hold to the ideas while laughing at their embodiment. Eddie didn’t really devalue their ideas, did she? No! She was just an imperfect vessel.

    But no one makes it out alive, really, except for the sensible mother. Saffie, the Daughter, is the level-headed one who has all the right opinions, but she’s also a killjoy prig.

    It’s a period piece like few others: so much pointless money, so much empty rote frantic posturing, so much late-90s hideousness, so much smoking. Jennifer Saunders, who created and wrote the main character, plays her at full volume, like someone barfing through a megaphone, but there’s really no other way to do it – and when matched with the impossibly cool and alluringly mummified Joanna Lumley, a coke straw tottering on spike heels, it all works. (A friend of mine is doing a two-hander sitcom on BBC radio with Lumley, and says she is a lovely person, which is nice to know.)

    Bloody abby-bloody-synnian-bloody-Vogue darling. Ah, the late 90s. What a vacation it was, and we had no idea.

    The 90s were Brilliant in Britain.  They’d gone through the clean up of the Thatcher years and even the Left loved earning money.  Of course they sowed the seeds of “Cool Britainnia”…  They concluded they could live well while doing “good”.  ;-(

    • #49
  20. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Married… With Children would be in my top five or six, but Frasier/AbFab still the best.

    Best of the early 2000s? Malcolm in the Middle. No contest. Even though Frankie Muniz remembers none of it because of a traumatic brain injury.

    Malcolm in the Middle was great for the first couple of seasons, but deteriorated quickly in the later ones and just turned into the mom (Jane Kaczmarek) screaming at everybody and having temper tantrums.

    The show did feature some fantastic characters though. Stevie was my personal favorite.

    For 2000s, I’d nominate My Name is Earl.

     

    “I will not jump for Joy.”

    • #50
  21. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    philo (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Married… With Children would be in my top five or six, but Frasier/AbFab still the best.

    Best of the early 2000s? Malcolm in the Middle. No contest. Even though Frankie Muniz remembers none of it because of a traumatic brain injury.

    Malcolm in the Middle was great for the first couple of seasons, but deteriorated quickly in the later ones and just turned into the mom (Jane Kaczmarek) screaming at everybody and having temper tantrums.

    The show did feature some fantastic characters though. Stevie was my personal favorite.

    For 2000s, I’d nominate My Name is Earl.

    “I will not jump for Joy.”

    Some of the stuff they got away with on that show…  we rewatched season one a year or so ago.  The guy who played Randy was amazing.  It’s hard to play that dumb and still be credible, but he pulled it off.

    I think my favorite bit was the one where they were going back to make amends to the boys farm where they had burned down the barn, and the change in the farms slogan on the sign over the years.  From memory, the original one was “Touching young boys for over 30 years”, followed by “Turning boys around”, followed finally by “We don’t do anything inappropriate to the boys”.

     

    Edit:  I just looked it up, the slogans are (in order)

    “Touching bad boys since 1963”

    “Bringing Boys to their knees since 1963”

    “Forcing Boys to Turn around since 1963”

    “Blowing Boys minds since 1963”

    “We don’t do anything inappropriate to the boys”.

    • #51
  22. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    No Caesar (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Lacroix, sweetie. Lacroix.

    Great post. Frasier was the ultimate refinement of the American sitcom; AbFab was the apotheosis of the broad British sitcom with a smart twist: it demolished the easy progressive tropes of the chattering class, but made its main character so arrogant, so infantile, so pathetic that the lefty viewers could still hold to the ideas while laughing at their embodiment. Eddie didn’t really devalue their ideas, did she? No! She was just an imperfect vessel.

    But no one makes it out alive, really, except for the sensible mother. Saffie, the Daughter, is the level-headed one who has all the right opinions, but she’s also a killjoy prig.

    It’s a period piece like few others: so much pointless money, so much empty rote frantic posturing, so much late-90s hideousness, so much smoking. Jennifer Saunders, who created and wrote the main character, plays her at full volume, like someone barfing through a megaphone, but there’s really no other way to do it – and when matched with the impossibly cool and alluringly mummified Joanna Lumley, a coke straw tottering on spike heels, it all works. (A friend of mine is doing a two-hander sitcom on BBC radio with Lumley, and says she is a lovely person, which is nice to know.)

    Bloody abby-bloody-synnian-bloody-Vogue darling. Ah, the late 90s. What a vacation it was, and we had no idea.

    The 90s were Brilliant in Britain. They’d gone through the clean up of the Thatcher years and even the Left loved earning money. Of course they sowed the seeds of “Cool Britainnia”… They concluded they could live well while doing “good”. ;-(

    Blackadder….A Bit of Fry and Laurie. TONS of great stuff back then!

    • #52
  23. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Great post

    Thank you. Arigatou

    • #53
  24. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    No Caesar (View Comment):

    My wife and I are long time fans of AbFab. I came to it through The Young Ones, another great British Comedy from the end of the 20th century. My wife also liked French and Saunders, the predecessor to AbFab. In many ways Saffy was a soft-Left version of Alex P. Keaton. We recently bought the clutch bag complete set. Brilliant, sweetie, dahling!

    I never watched a lot of Frasier, as I got tired of Cheers toward the end (sorry Rob), and wanted a change of mileau, so no strong opinions there.

    I loved the expressions on Saffy’s face every time Edina did something embarrassing.  Another one of my favorite episodes was “Isolation Tank” and the Romanian adoption scene at Saffy’s school during her science presentation . . .

    • #54
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    No Caesar (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Lacroix, sweetie. Lacroix.

    Great post. Frasier was the ultimate refinement of the American sitcom; AbFab was the apotheosis of the broad British sitcom with a smart twist: it demolished the easy progressive tropes of the chattering class, but made its main character so arrogant, so infantile, so pathetic that the lefty viewers could still hold to the ideas while laughing at their embodiment. Eddie didn’t really devalue their ideas, did she? No! She was just an imperfect vessel.

    But no one makes it out alive, really, except for the sensible mother. Saffie, the Daughter, is the level-headed one who has all the right opinions, but she’s also a killjoy prig.

    It’s a period piece like few others: so much pointless money, so much empty rote frantic posturing, so much late-90s hideousness, so much smoking. Jennifer Saunders, who created and wrote the main character, plays her at full volume, like someone barfing through a megaphone, but there’s really no other way to do it – and when matched with the impossibly cool and alluringly mummified Joanna Lumley, a coke straw tottering on spike heels, it all works. (A friend of mine is doing a two-hander sitcom on BBC radio with Lumley, and says she is a lovely person, which is nice to know.)

    Bloody abby-bloody-synnian-bloody-Vogue darling. Ah, the late 90s. What a vacation it was, and we had no idea.

    The 90s were Brilliant in Britain. They’d gone through the clean up of the Thatcher years and even the Left loved earning money. Of course they sowed the seeds of “Cool Britainnia”… They concluded they could live well while doing “good”. ;-(

    Blackadder….A Bit of Fry and Laurie. TONS of great stuff back then!

    Blackadder is another hilarious series!  “Who’s the Queenie?”

    • #55
  26. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    No Caesar (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Lacroix, sweetie. Lacroix.

    Great post. Frasier was the ultimate refinement of the American sitcom; AbFab was the apotheosis of the broad British sitcom with a smart twist: it demolished the easy progressive tropes of the chattering class, but made its main character so arrogant, so infantile, so pathetic that the lefty viewers could still hold to the ideas while laughing at their embodiment. Eddie didn’t really devalue their ideas, did she? No! She was just an imperfect vessel.

    But no one makes it out alive, really, except for the sensible mother. Saffie, the Daughter, is the level-headed one who has all the right opinions, but she’s also a killjoy prig.

    It’s a period piece like few others: so much pointless money, so much empty rote frantic posturing, so much late-90s hideousness, so much smoking. Jennifer Saunders, who created and wrote the main character, plays her at full volume, like someone barfing through a megaphone, but there’s really no other way to do it – and when matched with the impossibly cool and alluringly mummified Joanna Lumley, a coke straw tottering on spike heels, it all works. (A friend of mine is doing a two-hander sitcom on BBC radio with Lumley, and says she is a lovely person, which is nice to know.)

    Bloody abby-bloody-synnian-bloody-Vogue darling. Ah, the late 90s. What a vacation it was, and we had no idea.

    The 90s were Brilliant in Britain. They’d gone through the clean up of the Thatcher years and even the Left loved earning money. Of course they sowed the seeds of “Cool Britainnia”… They concluded they could live well while doing “good”. ;-(

    Blackadder….A Bit of Fry and Laurie. TONS of great stuff back then!

    Blackadder is another hilarious series! “Who’s the Queenie?”

    I adored the first season.  S2 is trash.  Haven’t checked out 3 or 4 since they originally aired.

    The first season was ridiculously expensive to make, so the second season at least became insults in a closet with costumes.

    • #56
  27. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    BDB (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    No Caesar (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Lacroix, sweetie. Lacroix.

    Great post. Frasier was the ultimate refinement of the American sitcom; AbFab was the apotheosis of the broad British sitcom with a smart twist: it demolished the easy progressive tropes of the chattering class, but made its main character so arrogant, so infantile, so pathetic that the lefty viewers could still hold to the ideas while laughing at their embodiment. Eddie didn’t really devalue their ideas, did she? No! She was just an imperfect vessel.

    But no one makes it out alive, really, except for the sensible mother. Saffie, the Daughter, is the level-headed one who has all the right opinions, but she’s also a killjoy prig.

    It’s a period piece like few others: so much pointless money, so much empty rote frantic posturing, so much late-90s hideousness, so much smoking. Jennifer Saunders, who created and wrote the main character, plays her at full volume, like someone barfing through a megaphone, but there’s really no other way to do it – and when matched with the impossibly cool and alluringly mummified Joanna Lumley, a coke straw tottering on spike heels, it all works. (A friend of mine is doing a two-hander sitcom on BBC radio with Lumley, and says she is a lovely person, which is nice to know.)

    Bloody abby-bloody-synnian-bloody-Vogue darling. Ah, the late 90s. What a vacation it was, and we had no idea.

    The 90s were Brilliant in Britain. They’d gone through the clean up of the Thatcher years and even the Left loved earning money. Of course they sowed the seeds of “Cool Britainnia”… They concluded they could live well while doing “good”. ;-(

    Blackadder….A Bit of Fry and Laurie. TONS of great stuff back then!

    Blackadder is another hilarious series! “Who’s the Queenie?”

    I adored the first season. S2 is trash. Haven’t checked out 3 or 4 since they originally aired.

    The first season was ridiculously expensive to make, so the second season at least became insults in a closet with costumes.

    I liked all of them.  To me, the 4th season (WW1) was the weakest . . .

    • #57
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