12 October 2006 | lucy-19
Great drama, funny with it
I have just caught up with this and it is as brilliant as people said it was at the time. But nearly 20 years have passed, and some things now jar. Nothing is as distant as the recent past. Paul and Jenny as the right-on, ideologically sound, politically correct couple are great, especially the way Jenny is boring and humourless and manipulates everybody by constantly bursting into tears and rushing from the room. People like that certainly were around back in those days. But they were hard to send up possibly because they were so earnest and smug they could never see a joke, let alone one against themselves. I like the way Liz begs Jenny to stop the "progressive preaching". But there's something wrong about Jenny. Her clothes and hairdo are too conservative (though they're dull and unsexy because fashion is a capitalist plot, and being sexy is pandering to patriarchy...). Maybe they thought the audience wouldn't get it if she spoke like that, or wore the kind of clothes a feminist eco-protester would have worn. Her constant sermons seem to be a way of explicating her far-out ideas to an audience who may never have heard them before. Another false note is struck by Rita's conversion from downtrodden, shy, unconfident wife and mother to liberated single woman (with big, big hair and a ghastly shiny outfit) just by having her husband leave her for another woman. She too starts spouting political sermons and reveals that she met her new boyfriend at a CND rally. She is a heroine for the late 80s and we're not meant to laugh at her as we laugh at Paul and Jenny.
I'd forgotten that way back then ideas that are now being embraced by the Conservative Party genuinely divided people. Conventional people had conservative ideas; if you wanted to go vegetarian or campaign against nuclear weapons you became a weirdo, a lefty, an unconventional person. Your original social group would look at you askance or possibly eject you. You might have to join another.
These are flaws that time has revealed. The rest stands up as great drama, acting and observation. Looking forward to catching up with the second series.