UK TV review: Am I Being Unreasonable?
James R | On 25, Sep 2022
Am I being unreasonable? Those are the words that certain users of the internet will immediately recognise as the name of the forum where people go to vent their frustrations in the hope of being validated or being reassured that, no, they’re not being unreasonable at all. We see the sort of questions that get posted there – for example, about being unhappy in one’s marriage – being typed out on the phone of Nic (Daisy May Cooper), as she lies in bed at night next to the equally unhappy Dan (Dustin Demri-Burns). But we soon learn that Nic’s dealing with a lot more than boredom.
That turns out to be a difficult combination of grief and shame, which stops her being able to talk about her loss. So when she crosses paths with Jen (Selin Hizli), another mum who actually seems on her wavelength, she is delighted to have a confidante she can be honest with. But what begins as a raucous and frank friendship soon takes a twist into sinister, unexpected territory.
Over six episodes, Am I Being Unreasonable? takes us through a surprising mix of romantic comedy, domestic thriller, psychological horror and suburban satire. What’s impressive, though, is less the ambition and more the execution, with the series – co-written by Cooper and Hizli – often juggling all those genres in the same scene, sometimes even the same shot. A blend of flashbacks and replays from different perspectives soon teach us not to get too comfortable, as we constantly reevaluate characters’ motivations and relationships with each new revelation.
The result is occasionally uneven, with some laughs sacrificed to keep up the suspense and some momentum and sympathy undercut by the comic dialogue and twisted plotting. But the cast are impeccable, from Dustin Demri-Burns as the slightly sleazy Dan to David Fynn as Alex, Dan’s best man who seems to comparatively abound with energy, charm and humour. Stealing every scene going is Lenny Rush as Nic’s son, Ollie, whose semi-improvised lines manage the perfect balance of adult wisdom and childlike innocence, while echoing Nic’s sarcasm with a hilariously blunt honesty. One poignant subplot features the always-excellent Jessica Hynes, although a lack of screen time leaves it feeling like a bit of a red herring.
The stars of the show are undoubtedly Cooper and Hizli. Real-life friends, their chemistry crackles with a lived-in quality that immediately sells their intense bond, even as it threatens to go from amusing pop culture references to something more obsessive. That friendship emerges as the constant that keeps you watching, even amid the jump-scares, unreliable narrators and often unlikable people. There’s a support and lack of judgement to be found in their relationship that’s an antidote to the toxic pressure to keep up appearances that drives the middle-class mums and dads around them. Playing out like Britain’s answer to Dead to Me, what gradually becomes clear is almost everyone we meet here is being unreasonable – the suspense lies in what happens when they’re prepared to admit it.