Why I Hate To Love Ab Fab

Absolutely Fabulous, the iconic Jennifer Saunders vehicle, is a total landmark of the British comedy scene. Those unfamiliar with the 90s sitcom (really?) may be aware of the film that came out this year. It follows the latest in Patsy and Edina's lives - the two self-centred, hard-drinking leads. Now, the film is great. Totally random and sometimes meandering, but very funny and full of amazing cameos (Kate Moss, Jean-Paul Gautier, Joan Collins). But the TV series is a real conflicting issue for me: I've thought long and hard about my opinion of it and I've decided that I'm split down the middle, I love and I hate it. So Freudian. And here are my reasons as to why I'm torn.

 

✘ It’s not that funny

No tea no shade but Ab Fab often flatlines. Sometimes I’m watching it and waiting, and watching and waiting, and watching and then.. oh. It’s ended. Admittedly that’s seasons 1-3, which are a little dated. Oftentimes the humour is totally missing. Like when Bubble can’t get over how New Year’s Eve works. I mean, I get she’s dumb but labour the point much? Don’t get me wrong, there is often the killer line from Patsy or Edina. But it’s a rose amongst thorns.

✔ It’s totally surreal

While some jokes don’t land, I have clocked Ab Fab for its deft use of surreal vignettes and dream sequences. Like Edina’s weird bedside fever dream starring Helena Bonham Carter and Germaine Greer in the hospital in series 2. Or Patsy’s dark flashbacks to her childhood and her mother. I think these scenes are hilarious and full of risk; Saunders really paves the way for future comedy to invoke dreaming and cutaways in their writing.

✔ The cast

Speaking of credit where credit is due, you can’t get mad at a cast that includes French and Saunders. And I’m also a huge fan of Joanna Lumley. Add a dash of Kathy Burke, Ruby Wax, Julia Sawalha and Jane Horrocks. That’s a genius combination.

✘ The horrific verbal abuse of Saffron

This is my biggest problem. The way Edina (and Patsy) treat Saffy is abominable. And I get it’s supposed to be funny, but something’s missing. It’s not like Nick in My Family or Father Dougal in Father Ted, for instance. Edina is just terrible to her daughter and shows her no warmth. Remember when she calls Saffron a moustachioed virgin or ditches her in Marrakech? Sometimes it’s like watching a true life documentary about child abuse instead of sitcom.

✔ It’s super gay

I’m recently realising that when I was growing up - and that’s only 5-10 years ago - entertainment was passively homophobic, which sucks. Preaching gay shame and effemiphobia teaches questioning people and out gay people that there is something wrong with them. But Ab Fab never did that. In fact, the show features a lot of gay characters, storylines and references (albeit a little over-zealously and stereotypically). Props to Ab Fab.

✘ Katy Grin

She’s ridiculous and boring. It’s Bubble or nothing.

Sam Cleal