All episodes directed by: George Kane
All episodes written by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Most sitcoms must find a conceit that keeps the core cast members together and unified. A lot of situation comedies go the route of a family nucleus. It’s easy to see why. There is no need for explanation as to why a family would regularly be together, spend time as a whole, members of it intersecting and being interested in each other’s lives. The workplace comedy is another automatic go-to. Especially in the western world, we spend so much time at our jobs and get to know our coworkers so well that they feel like an extension of ourselves. So placing a sitcom in the workplace feels like a perfect setting. A group of friends, especially one that focuses on single people in their twenties, is another obvious choice, as single people have time to dedicate to friendships, still in fledgling careers, and not quite yet tied down to families or children of their own. Think of the most popular television sitcoms right now and they all fit into one of these categories. Obviously one can make these shows quite creative in spite of the obviousness of location, but the default is getting quite tired several decades in.
Crazy people living together under one roof is also a go-to, albeit a less common one, for the premise of a sitcom. This last one, though, allows for some extra creativity. One has to figure out how to bring the various characters together, make them work as a unit, and push the storyline forward as well. This has been the central concept to two of Netflix’s first sitcoms with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Grace and Frankie – the first through the randomness of roommates in New York City, the second due to changes beyond one’s control very late in life. Billed as a Netflix original but really simply an exclusive international acquisition is Crashing, a delightful British sitcom that follows this premise. Because housing is so expensive, especially for young people, many default to being property guardians: an arrangement in which people are allowed to occupy a space for minimal cash in exchange for keeping the property under observation and under control. In the case of this sitcom the location is a disused hospital, and the minimal rent includes a strict set of guidelines, but absolutely no supervision. Obviously rules are meant to be broken and comedy swiftly ensues.
The opening of the show focuses on Lulu (Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also wrote every episode of the series), who arrives in town and meets up with her best mate Anthony (Damien Molony). The two have chemistry, but he is engaged to uptight and high strung Kate (Louise Ford). The two are saving up for their wedding, and thus working as property guardians in the meanwhile. In spite of Kate’s reservations, Lulu moves into the abandoned hospital with them. Their other friends include the sexually ambiguous but always horny Sam (Jonathan Bailey, Broadchurch), the introverted and gay Fred (Amit Shah), the French libertine Melody (Julie Dray), and Kate’s middle aged, sad, pathetic, cuckold coworker (and object of Melody’s sexual desires) Colin (Adrian Scarborough). Aside from Colin, all other characters are supposed to be somewhere in their twenties.
The central story zeroes in on the dynamics of the Lulu-Anthony-Kate triangle of jealousy, attraction, lies, and lust. Each character playing their roles quite well, with plenty of laughs. In true British style, the funny doesn’t really come from one-liners or quips, but by awkwardness and delivery. To write down quotes would be futile, because it’s not the words that are funny, rather the execution. Side stories focus on the Melody-Colin opposites attract interactions, as well as the interesting friendship that exists between Fred and Sam the horndog. The episodes breeze by: there’s only six of them, and none last longer than 30 minutes, much like other British comedy series. It’s unclear whether there will be a second season, as many of the cast members, especially the writer and star, are in high demand and distracted by other projects, but I sincerely hope there will be. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, had fun watching it, and it was a welcome distraction. Not serious but intelligent enough to keep me interested. Also, any show that includes Susan Wokoma (who appears in three episodes as Kate’s coworker and friend) is at this point an automatic watch for me, for she can do no wrong. Ultimately my review comes down to three words: Crashing is smashing!