Catch up TV review: Butterfly, Happy Together, Celebrity Hunted, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds
James R | On 21, Oct 2018
Butterfly (ITV Hub)
“It’s fine if the lad is gay,” declares Maxine’s granddad halfway through Butterfly, as she wears a skirt and pink top. But Maxine isn’t gay: Maxine was into the wrong body, as Max. It’s just a phase, reasons her dad, Stephen (Emmet J Scanlan). Did something happen during her pregnancy, wonders mum Vicky (Anna Friel). And so ITV’s drama begins to pick apart the many, varied reactions to someone coming out as transgender. It’s a divisive, thorny topic in modern society, as awareness – and, hopefully, understanding – improves, and dramas such as this (and Transparent) begin to explore what families and trans invidividuals go through in primetime, mainstream slots. Tony Marchant’s writing is sensitive and nuanced, as he introduces us to Maxine, struggling between trying to find herself and express herself and trying to fit in and avoid bullying at school or disappointment at home – she wants to be a footballer, she lies to her dad, just because it’s what he expects to hear. Callum Booth-Ford is fantastic as the young child dealing with something that many adults struggle to admit or accept, and Callum ‘s supported superbly by a subtle ensemble cast. Best of all is Millie Gibson as Lily, Maxine’s wise-cracking, supportive sister, who encourages her to join in with the girls dancing in the school playground. “Are you protecting your brother?” bullies ask her, after school. “No,” she replies – not because she’s disowning Maxine, but because she thinks of her as her sister. As the three-parter continues to explore the prejudice and social pressures that surround gender, let’s all try to be more like Lily.
Happy Together (All 4)
A sitcom produced by Harry Styles? That might sound unusual, but there’s nothing groundbreaking or new about this sitcom, which sees a young pop star move in with his accountant and his wife, after a relationship implodes and he needs to lay low. Damon Wayans Jr. has lost none of his charisma showcased by New Girl and he’s likeable as the unassuming Jake, who’s happily married to Claire (Amber Stevens West). Refreshingly, though, Claire is just as charming and funny, given an equal number of decent lines and kept away from the disapproving spouse trope that swallows many TV comedies. They both are enjoyably self-deprecating as they try to be as cool as the 20-something celebrity, even though their 30-something domestic routine is far from exciting. There aren’t huge laughs so far, but their answerphone messages are guffaw-inducing, and there’s enough potential here to explore generational divides with fresh, realistic characters – this might grow into something less conventional after all.
Celebrity Hunted (All 4)
Celebrity versions of popular TV formats are a staple of Channel 4’s current output, with everything from The Crystal Maze to Bake Off lining up famous faces (of varying degrees) to bring some novelty to a format, often for charity. Now, Hunted gets the star treatment, and the result is as fantastic as you’d expect. That’s partly because Hunter’s premise is almost infallible: its set-up is simple (people go on the run and avoid trackers), its hunters are formidable (they use police-like measures from phone tracking to social media monitoring, and is editing is dizzyingly, grippingly slick. But Celebrity Hunted brings an added frisson to the existing tension, because the people trying to avoid being spotted are recognisable faces already – which makes it harder to blend in or seek help from friends and family without detection. This second season sees Love Island veterans foolishly use a burner phone and, in a brilliantly dumb move, an MP (who picked a bad time to participate in this programme) actually go to work to take part in a major Brexit vote. You can’t write this stuff.
Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds (All 4)
You may recall a short Channel 4 experiment last year that saw a bunch of young children parachuted into an old people’s home to see whether their presence could have a positive impact on the residents, and vice versa. Now, it’s back properly for a full run, with four year olds dropped into Nottingham’s Lark Hill, the UK’s largest retirement village, to cause havoc. On the one hand, there’s 102-year-old WWI survivor Sylvia and 97-year-old Victor; on the other, the irrepressible Scarlett, who’s friends with octogenarian Beryl. Challenges such as a maze on the floor are designed to rest short term memory, but the bonus therapy here is for the viewers: watching the inter-generational bonds form, and affection develop, is wonderfully heartwarming television, as each group learns something from the other.