Why Mandy should be your next box set
James R | On 09, Jan 2022
This review is based on Season 1 and 2.
Diane Morgan joins Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Daisy May Cooper, Sharon Horgan and Michaela Coel as one of the most interesting comedy talents around today, and after a welcome solo outing for her character Philomena Cunk and a scene-stealing turn in Motherland, she gets a deserving chance to create her own comedy series. The result is Mandy, a series about a chain-smoking underdog who dreams of nothing greater than raising some Doberman Pinschers.
We join her as she tries to get a job – initially at a banana factory where a sequence involving a hammer is laugh-out-loud funny. Things get dafter from there with the introduction of Maxine Peake as an old school rival, setting the tone (and the high bar) for a first season. Throughout Morgan’s delivery is impeccable, serving up every absurd line and aside with a carefree matter-of-factness and a permanent frown. The inclusion of a voodoo subplot is questionable on first viewing, but Morgan’s character work in crafting a follow-up to Philomena Cunk is undoubtedly something to treasure.
Season 2 builds on that promise to make something truly brilliant, dropping us back into Mandy’s aimless hunting for any kind of occupation – with her reasons (crucially not excuses) for leaving each job becoming increasingly ridiculous while still being absolutely accurate. Morgan’s deadpan presence is essential to balancing the surreal and mundane, enabling the programme to take some wonderfully surprising twists and turns, whether it’s a parody of Who Do You Think You Are? or a full-on Satanic ritual.
She’s back by a strong cast, including Tom Basden as her vaguely patient benefits officer, and a host of cameos from Tom Courtenay and Anna Maxwell Martin to Nick Mohammed to Konnie Huq, Deborah Meaden and Brian Cox.
But the show’s secret weapon is its short-form format, with each 15-minute episodes flying by without ever letting things drag. The result is two seasons of absurdity distilled into three hours of concentrated laughter. You suspect even Philomena Cunk would like it.
Mandy is available on BBC iPlayer until December 2022