Sunday, April 09, 2023

Am I Being Unreasonable, on Hulu

The characters of this comedy series should sequester themselves from people, because their toxicity is off the charts. They never should have married and they certainly should never reproduce—and yet they did. Of course, that is where the comedy comes from. Writer-creator-co-leads Daisy May Cooper and Selin Hizli take no prisoners in the six-part Am I Being Unreasonable, which premieres Tuesday on Hulu.

Nic has genuine affection for her son Ollie (who was born with a dwarfism condition), but she is still a terrible mom. She can barely pretend to be interested in him and her contempt for her husband Dan is starting to show. Instead, she mopes around in a state of depression, unable to fully mourn her secret lover, Alex, who died in front of her, one cold winter night. However, Dan can mourn for him just fine, since Alex was his brother.

Emotionally hobbled by the horror and guilt of the experience, Nic is barely functioning. Then she meets Jen, who’s cool, couldn’t-give-a-toss attitude appeals to her. They become fast friends, thanks in part to a great deal of booze. However, we soon learn Jen is prone to obsessive behavior and clingy attachments. For some reason, she deliberately set out to insinuate herself into Nic’s life.

The series is mostly a dysfunctional family sitcom, albeit an unusually dark one, but Cooper and Hizli also incorporate some thriller elements, in the tradition of
Single White Female and Fatal Attraction. Regardless, these are some of the most messed-up, brazenly manipulative, and irredeemably self-absorbed characters any TV or streaming series has dared to feature in years. Naturally, that is why Unreasonable is so refreshing. These people regularly humiliate each other and themselves, but it is always very funny, precisely because they so richly deserve it.

You might say nobody is trying to make a statement or teach us anything, but that is not entirely true. Viv, one of the busybody moms Nic cannot abide, gets mercilessly skewered for her didactic “feminist comedy routines,” which often involve making inappropriate sexual references in front of the children. If you think the show is laughing with her rather than at her, than
Unreasonable is also laughing at you too.

Frankly, it is a bit surprising Hulu and the BBC had the gumption to produce and stream
Unreasonable. This is basically throwback Ab/Fab humor, but with a darker misanthropic undercurrent. Cooper is hilarious as the shameless Nic. Her character arc starts at utter rock-bottom and then craters further. Hizli gives off massively creepy vibes as Jen, but weirdly, her character somewhat recedes into the background for the final episodes.

Yet, the star-making discovery of the series is Lenny Rush as Ollie, who nails some of the series best deadpan one-liners, while still portraying its most (or only) appealing character, with sly charisma. He and Cooper have a nonspoilery scene late in the series, in which she tells Ollie he is a lot like her and it scares her, to which he agrees and says it scares him too. That is just so this show. Plus, Juliet Cowan deliberately earns all kinds of groans and face-palms as the socially clueless Viv.

Am I Being Unreasonable
is a comedy series that is actually very funny. Imagine that. Watch it while you can, because the professionally offended are sure to complain it “triggers” them. This is exactly the kind of fun they always try to kill. Very highly recommended, Am I Being Unreasonable starts streaming Tuesday (4/11) on Hulu.