Friday, 15 October 2010

'HIM & HER' 1.4-1.6 - "The Football", "The Parents" & "The Argument"

Friday, 15 October 2010

I stopped reviewing BBC3's Him & Her after the third episode, but kept watching and promised some kind of summarizing review after this week's finale. I think Him & Her showed real potential in its first two episodes, with a brilliantly grimy tone and recognizable traits in lazy lovers Steve (Russell Tovey) and Becky (Sarah Solemani). But then it began to fall apart for me; mainly because, once everything had been setup, the storylines and jokes didn't take things a step further. It was content to play the same cards every week, to decreasing impact.

"The Football" was the worst episode of the run, with everyone gathered at the bedsit to watch a football match on TV, while Paul (Ricky Champ) moaned about finding out he's adopted and Steve tried to parse a dream he'd had of Becky and her ex. There just wasn't much of interest going on, and when the story took a turn into an argument of perceived racism it came across as rather desperate.

An improvement was "The Parents", if only because seeing Becky's mum and dad (Nigel and Jill) interact with Steve, whom they don't like, was inherently amusing. Steve's attempts to look good around his girlfriend's parents, even when he's made to look a fool by asking Nigel to fix a broken fridge that just had the thermostat turned off, was also very funny. Great to see Ralph Brown (Withnail & I, Alien3) playing Nigel, too.

"The Argument" was fairly average, with Becky and Steve spending the whole episode fuming with each other over a silly argument Steve refused to apologize for. The episode just kind of dragged along, but was rescued by a wonderful final scene, where Steve revealed the depth of his love for Becky in the bathroom (brilliantly played by Tovey), and capped by the amusing twist that, contrary to what we've assumed for the past six episodes, Becky doesn't actually live with Steve. A prospective second series should find Becki moving in (although I doubt her "woman's touch" will amount to much in his bedsit), and Steve didn't look too happy about losing his independence.

But will there be a second run? Him & Her has split opinion: some people absolutely hate its whole sensibility, premise and characters; others people find a certain honesty, realism and warmth between the dysfunctional friends, if you can get past its puerile tendencies. I wouldn't be opposed to a second series, but I hope writer Stefan Golaszewski spends more time on the scripts, or finds a good co-writer, because the overall joke started to wear thin after episode 3 and there wasn't much cleverness to take the edge off the gross-outs. With increasingly regularity, Him & Her was chasing bad taste gags, or taking things to ridiculous extremes (like Laura believing she's visited by aliens) that took me out of the show's grungy reality.

What are your thoughts on this sitcom? Misunderstood genius? Detestable crud? Promising but riddled with problems? Would you like to see it come back (with improvements), or is it best forgotten because it was already starting to flag?