The man who gave us iconic lines like ‘that’s a lovely bit of squirrel’ and ‘s*** on it’ was never likely to disappoint, so the return of Robert Popper with his new Channel 4 sitcom I Hate You is a welcome one.
Rather than a Jewish family sitting down for their Friday night dinner, this similarly silly series hinges on best mates Charlie (’s Tanya Reynolds) and Becca (Melissa Saint) and their various antics as twenty-something women living in .
It seems like an odd choice for Popper, a 54-year-old bloke, to have left the safe territory of writing about his own family and gone down the women in their mid-twenties route, but he’s somehow has got it spot on – to the point where I started to worry if he’d been listening into my conversations on the bus.
Maybe it’s an embarrassing indictment of the weird nonsense I, a twenty-something woman living in London, say to my friends, but Popper’s on to something.
We might not have double dated octogenarians or seduced any family members (well, I hope not), but the stupid in-jokes (dog abortions, hilarious), stupid nicknames for ex-boyfriends and stupidly pushing each other in bins feels right.
And like Charlie and Becca, we say ‘I hate you,’ all the time – even though what it really means is ‘I love you.’
Reynolds and Saint fire off Popper’s trademark bonkers dialogue with wit and precision while maintaining a warm, natural chemistry – and also being thoroughly annoying, of course. But that’s kind of the point – your favourite friends are really annoying and stupid. It’s relatable.
Some parts don’t make much sense at all. How do they manage to afford a rather roomy flat in Hackney on the wages of a curtain shop salesperson and a rare autograph collector’s assistant? And not all of the oddballs in the background need to be there, for instance, Bradley, a grossly nervous young man with a crush on Charlie, isn’t a patch on Mark Heap’s slimy creep Jim.
But the best part is that it’s as thoroughly unexpected as the best of Friday Night Dinner: cringe situations you think you can spot the toe-curling resolution of a mile away always unfold entirely differently. It’s refreshing but familiar– a return to proper farcical idiocy.
So, if you’re a fan of Friday Night Dinner, then consider popping round to Charlie and Becca’s gaff sometime.
All episodes available now on All 4.