REVIEW: Channel 4’s ‘Flowers’ is completely batty
Not many television comedies start with an attempted suicide, but then not many comedies are like Flowers.
From a quirky, indie film-esque vibe to the cinematography, to an extremely daring script and a host of completely batty characters – Flowers is not your typical sitcom. It is the story of a charmingly eccentric family who are trying to stay together despite struggling with personal demons, and it is not afraid to examine mental health issues in a dark depth.
Flowers is the brainchild of young up-and-coming writer, director and actor Will Sharpe, who explains Flowers‘ nonconventional nature as: “I felt like I wanted it to be a bit like a ‘non-sitcom sitcom’ – something that, while definitely a sitcom, finds its characters sort of breaking the sitcom format by questioning their own identities (and archetypes).”
The cast does a wonderful job of delivering Sharpe’s vision. Including The Mighty Boosh‘s Julian Barratt as depression-suffering children’s book writer Maurice Grubbs and the BAFTA-winning Olivia Colman as eccentric music teacher Deborah Grubbs, the pair have excellent chemistry. The addition of Maurice’s children’s book illustrator Shun (played by Sharpe), to their household makes little sense but ultimately allows for comic gold. Every scene Sharpe is in is hilarious, and sometimes – given the tone of the sitcom – allows for much needed relief.
The only slight disappointments are the two grown-up children, Amy (Sophia Di Martino) and Donald (BAFTA winner Daniel Rigby), who are both competing for the romantic attentions of neighbour Abigail (BAFTA winner Georgina Campbell). They seem, as of yet, sadly underdeveloped compared to their zany parents – but hopefully this is something that may correct itself over the course of the series.
Despite all the talk of Flowers being a dark and unusual comedy, it is still a comedy, and it is – somewhat surprisingly – genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. The first episode is hilarious, and although later episodes turn a darker, dramatic tone, it still retains its core objective of making viewers laugh. The ‘sitcom-with-depth’ thing seems to work, and maybe it’s something more writers should be brave enough to try.