In Peak TV, It’s Easy to Fall Through the Cracks
What It Is: If you live outside the UK you’ve likely never heard of this 20-episode sitcom, and you’re only slightly more likely to have heard of it’s creator, Miranda Hart (Spy, Emma). But you’d be doing yourself a disservice to keep it that way. Not only is Ms. Hart wildly funny and a true master of physical comedy, all 4 seasons of her self-insert sitcom, Miranda, are not only a marvelous depiction of Peter Pan syndrome, but also disturbingly relatable to any person who has ever felt socially awkward.
The series follows Miranda (who seems never to have been given a last name) as she struggles to adapt to the morays of adult life; whether those be attending her mother’s horrifically themed parties, managing her joke shop with her best friend Stevie Sutton, or using her wiles to attract the attentions of handsome chef, Gary Preston. And there’s really not much more to the plot than that. It’s a true sitcom in the purest sense, playing off of the classic multi-camera setup and fourth wall locales for that classic “filmed in front of a live studio audience” feel.
Why It’s Great: There are so many wonderful things I could say about Miranda that I find it difficult to narrow them down. But certainly the first is Miranda Hart herself. She is the exact opposite of what film & TV has trained you to expect from a leading lady. She’s tall, she’s wide, she’s wacky, gets called ‘Sir’ far more often than she would like, and is an absolute disaster of a human being.
Yet as the show progresses, even the more socially competent of Miranda’s friends and family are gradually revealed to have their own failings and less than ideal idiosyncrasies, playing into the shows ultimate message, that when it comes right down to it, we’re all a little bit terrible at being adults. Her mother, Penny, is a well-regarded upper-middle-class socialite (if such a thing exists), and is completely emotionally tone-deaf. Her best friend, Stevie, is a tiny business dynamo with a can-do attitude, and more nervous energy that she can productively channel all the time.
But the dynamic most heavily at the center of the show is inevitably Miranda’s relationship with the tall drink of vitamin water that is Gary Preston. So rarely can a sitcom say that it’s main couple are compelling, funny, realistic, and well-developed all at the same time. Gary, played by the incomparable Tom Ellis, (who you actually might have heard of now that he’s widely known as the titular character of Lucifer), is a gorgeous chef who’s always standing by with baked goods (even if he does insist on doing things like making cakes out of beetroot).
Everything about Gary and Miranda’s romance is refreshing, even besides the flipped trope of a socially awkward weirdo ending up with the beautiful girl. Their on-again off-again, will-they won’t-they romance isn’t simply a conceit of the genre either. It consistently works to maneuver them to a point where a relationship between the two would not only be plausible but healthy and balanced. There is no moment of realization that ‘love had been there the whole time,’ simply two friends who’ve always wondered if they could possibly be something more, growing together and loving each other.
But at the end of the day, I think the truly best thing about Miranda (both the character and the show) is the sense of childlike fun at their cores. Miranda (the character, not the show) isn’t interested in abiding by the adult rulebook, she’d rather do fun things that make her happy, asserting that if adults “had even the slightest, in-the-moment joy of a child” then the world would be a far better place.
Miranda speaks to the kid that never actually grew up inside of all of us. Watching it makes the word “bottom” suddenly hilarious, and makes the idea of playing Biscuit Blizzard (a game you can play with the common household items: a box of cookies and a blow dryer) almost impossible to turn down. As the world grows increasingly scarier and TV grows increasingly darker for the sake of putting buzz words like “innovative” and “edgy” in their blurbs, it’s nice to sit back for a half hour and relish in being weird.
Where You Can Find It: Currently, you can stream Miranda on Hulu, Amazon Prime (free with ads or an iMDB TV subscription) as well as on AcornTV. I’d really only recommend that final option if you’re just really into British and Australian television, in which case, you’ve probably already seen this show, haven’t you.