“You’re Like a Real Life Paula Abdul”: The Return of Grandma’s House
Its fair to say that I gave up early on the first series of Grandma’s House which aired back in 2010. I understood it was a semi autobiographical comedy from Simon Amstell but for some reason the opening episode of Series one left me uninterested and slightly bemused. The reviews for series one were harsh with most agreeing Simon Amstell’s acting was a bit ropey. I liked the idea but not the execution. However, what I always admire about the BBC is the fact that they will always give series they believe in a second shot and two years on from the first series Grandma’s House is back. It would appear that in the two years since the first series went out that a lot of work has gone into the series and the resulting second series is really quite brilliant!
I previewed the first episode with an open mind and willing to give the series another chance. I can’t tell you how pleased I am I did. The series has a simple premise: Simon Amstell plays a version of himself and much like The Royle Family before it, all the comedy centeres in his Grandma’s House with the main characters being Simon’s mum (played absolutely brilliantly by Rebecca Front), his Grandmother and his Aunt and her son. The comedy is subtle and the characters are identifiable and real which serves as a refreshing change after the surprise success of slapstick series like Mrs. Brown’s Boys. The script is sharp and laugh out loud in places. Amstell’s acting (which was unfairly berated during the first series) seems to have improved and he appears more comfortable playing an awkward version of himself. Most of the comedy comes from Simon’s awkwardness around his family and the embarrassing situations he finds himself in but he is in no way the star of the show. The cast around Amstell steal each scene.
What I found so endearing about Grandma’s House (and maybe if I’d stuck with Series one I would have discovered this sooner) is that was so warm, real and actually quite sweet in a strange way. Its believable and that’s a rare trait in comedy of late. I’ve always been a huge fan of genuine observational comedy. There are some lines here that I could’ve sworn I’d heard my mum or Aunt say themselves and I enjoyed the real life aspect to it. Its a series that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. Amstell is more than happy to mock his public image and Grandma’s House never feels pretentious or silly.
If like me you were initially put off by the first series I highly recommend that you give this second series a go. I was so pleasantly surprised by this and it made me genuinely laugh out loud and smile and that’s really all I ever want from a good comedy.
Series 2 airs Thursdays at 10.00pm on BBC2.