British television is so… digestible. By that, I mean each series (read: season) is only 6 episodes long, which is beautiful and nice. I’m also a fan of the 13-episode season of American television, by the way. These twenty-something overkill marathons that they call seasons nowadays need to step off.
And so I step off my soapbox and back onto the topic at hand, which is a specific British television show, Nighty Night. I had absolutely no idea what to expect of this little thing. My first impression was that the lady on the cover looked like a very cheap version of Jenna Elfman, which her character indeed turned out to be. But the thing is, this lady, Julia Davis, wrote the whole thing. So she’s brilliant, which excuses her poor wardrobe choices throughout.
Actually, the wardrobe choices weren’t really meant to make her look bad, so much as make her incredibly annoying (but great) character look awful. Jill is basically a psychopath, and through some either smart or twisted (probably both) scheme set off by her husband getting cancer, she manages to entangle herself into the lives of Don and Cath. Jill falls in love with Don, something I don’t really understand because his character is pretty bland and Angus Deayton, the actor who plays him, isn’t particularly striking. But whatever. Whilst trying to win him over, she also makes Cath’s life a living hell. Now, I’m used to seeing Rebecca Front play a different type of submissive character; I know her as Nikola on The Thick of It, and while she always acquiesced to Malcolm Tucker’s outbursts (because everyone did on that show, because that’s what you do), she was certainly more assertive than on this show. Here, she plays a lady with multiple sclerosis and a generally conflict-avoiding demeanor. It’s sort of fascinating to watch her subtle changes over the course of the six episodes. She starts meek and gradually develops enough courage not just to confront Jill about her nutsack behavior, but also to get back at her husband for being such a dipshit. Go Cath!
Nighty Night is beyond dark, as that cancer premise I mentioned is, well, more detailed than I mentioned. Jill assumes right from the start that her husband’s prognosis is terminal, even when it isn’t at all, and proceeds to tell him wrong information and even fake a funeral to get him out of her life. It’s insane. But it makes for entertaining television. As with The Marriage Plot, I found myself rooting against the love triangle in general, since all the characters are so despicable that they couldn’t possibly make each other happy anyway. But I also found myself intrigued by what might happen to them next, and that kept me coming back to each episode. Though I would have been satisfied with the way the sixth episode ended, I am pretty stoked for Series 2. I just hope I never, ever meet anyone like Jill. Insert heebie-jeebies here.