After a hilariously observant pilot last year, it was obvious that MOTHERLAND would be guaranteed a series.
Creators Sharon Horgan and Graham Linehan mine middle-class motherhood for comedy. These aren’t your ordinary middle-class mothers though: they are Mumsnet types that live in large houses in suburban London.
In some ways, this is the successor to Outnumbered but it solves the nagging issue that sitcom had. Rather than presenting middle-class WASP-ish families as a norm, these mothers exist in a heightened sphere. The fascist connotations of the title are no coincidence.
In Episode 1, permanently frazzled Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin) is shamed by the other mums into throwing a big birthday party for daughter Ivy. Liz (Diane Morgan) reassures her that it’ll be a great way of guaranteeing future childcare - a sort of mass babysitting. Why the seemingly well-off Julia can’t afford childcare is an unanswered question but her increasingly strained and elaborate attempts to balance her work and family life are very funny.
The party doesn’t quite go to plan: the birthday girl gets a virus and the parents insist on staying with the children.
The best performances are from Diane Morgan as chronically laid-back Liz, who gets many of the best jokes and insufferable alpha mum Amanda (Lucy Punch). Her snide comments are a constant criticism of Julia’s maternal instincts.
Some of the most successful sitcoms are a comedy of manners. Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses - which allow endless comic possibilities. As a well-executed example, Motherland looks set to spawn as many series as Outnumbered.
- Aired on BBC Two, November 7 2017 at 22:00.