British comedy Gavin and Stacey is such a hit across the pond that it’s won multiple BAFTAs and British Comedy Awards and recently gotten a shout out from Olympic swimmer David Davies. And now that it’s come to BBC America, us Yanks finally get to see what all the fuss is about.
Essentially, Gavin and Stacey is a romance about a nice boy from Essex, England (Mathew Horne), and a nice girl from Barry, Wales (Joanna Page), who fall in love and (eventually) get married. And it’s a comedy about the circle of deranged friends and relatives who orbit these twin suns of romantic bliss.
Populating television shows with casts of eccentric characters is practically the British national pastime, but writers James Corden and Ruth Jones (who play the couple’s idiosyncratic best friends) have masterfully crafted a hilarious ensemble of fresh weirdos for your viewing pleasure. (And if Gavin’s mom looks familiar, that’s because she’s played by the amazing Alison Steadman, who was Mrs. Bennet in the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice, and she’s every bit as much fun here.)
Though the people who populate their world may be batty, the title couple themselves ground the show with a center of un-ironic sincerity. Their eccentricity hinges on their immediate and unshakable mutual affection–after all, what’s crazier than two strangers deciding they can’t live without one another?
Gavin and Stacey is absurd, endearing, racy, unapologetically romantic, and simultaneously modern and old fashioned. It’s a Richard Curtis romance adapted for a post-Ricky Gervais television landscape. The fact that Horne (who, for some reason, reminds me of Torchwood‘s Owen, if Owen were a Very Nice Young Man instead of a Very Bad Boy) came from The Catherine Tate Show and Page is perhaps most recognizable from Curtis’ Love, Actually gives you a clue to the sensibility of the show. This contradictory tone is mirrored by the soundtrack, which in the first episode runs the gamut from The Libertines and The Kooks to Paolo Nutini and Lifehouse.
Take BBC America’s advice and turn on your closed captioning, though, because some of the Welsh accents are a bit indecipherable to the untamed American ear. And enjoy the original in all its untainted glory while you can, because (of course) is NBC is already working on an American adaptation.