Super Queer British Sitcom “Such Brave Girls” Is Discomfort Comedy at Its Finest

Three episodes into the six-episode run of new British sitcom Such Brave Girls, I texted fellow Autostraddle editor Drew Burnett Gregory to say: this is sooooo fucked up (complimentary).

Starring real life sisters Kat Sadler and Lizzie Davidson as fictional sisters Josie and Billie, Such Brave Girls tells the chaotic little tales of a dysfunctional family of three. There’s those aforementioned sisters and their mother Deb (Louise Brealey), who’s still grieving the departure of their father…from over a decade ago. The three women wouldn’t know an appropriate boundary if it punched them in the face. The script, penned by Sadler, is beyond acidic; it’s like guzzling gasoline.

Josie is fresh out of a stint in a psychiatric hospital following a mental breakdown that stems from her ongoing depression and anxiety. An ongoing joke in the series is that Josie’s mere presence annoys and exhausts Billie and Deb, who are too caught up in their own delusions to provide any kind of support. Billie is too busy trying to trap a boy into a relationship with her. And Deb, well, Deb is sort of doing the same actually, pretending her deadbeat husband who left her is actually dead in order to bond with the widower she’s courting because he has a big house. In their reckless quests for love, Billie and Josie are merely following the relationship models they know.

This is not a series about a family coming together to face their traumas together. This is not a series about a dysfunctional family learning to be more functional in their own ways. It’s a laugh-out-loud comedy about a family constantly bringing out the worst in each other and encouraging each other’s self-destructive patterns. And watching them flounder, fail, and fight is wildly entertaining. It’s the heightened commitment to the bit that really makes it all work. Billie and Deb’s disdain for Josie and dismissal of her obviously serious mental health issues doesn’t exactly scream fodder for comedy, and yet, Such Brave Girls makes it a riot.

Despite this lack of tenderness or warmth (a lack I welcome greatly as someone who tends to prefer stories about emotional and mental upheaval that cackle through the pain), Such Brave Girls still also manages to be very real about the sludgy slime of everyday life and just trying to be a person in this fucked up world. Josie strings along a boyfriend she has no interest in…mainly because she’s gay as hell. Josie knows she’s gay, but she finds it easier to be with this boy because she doesn’t have to think or feel anything in order to be with him. Meanwhile, a flirty encounter with a butch bartender send her literally spiraling. Josie’s treatment of her boyfriend is, just like so much of the series, cruel and self-serving, but it’s also such a realistic snapshot of something I think about a lot: the selfishness we sometimes deploy in order to maintain the closet. I was reckless with the feelings of others when closeted, and I too thought it easier to perform romantic relationships with boys than to listen to what I really wanted.

For all its over-the-top humor and nasty (again, complimentary) jokes, Such Brave Girls also finds discomfort and friction in very true-to-life situations. Billie and Josie have heightened emotions, but none of it is all that different from feelings I’ve felt at various points of life. These characters just don’t have internal monologues or self-restraint mechanisms. They’re all id, all impulse run amok. Josie’s arc hinges on not knowing who she is — both in terms of her sexuality and desires but also in terms of what she wants to do in life, her identity as an artist recently crumbling. That all-encompassing existential dread indeed contextualizes much of her destructive tendencies. But for all of Josie’s uncertainty, Such Brave Girls knows exactly what it is, Sadler crafting a wickedly hilarious and hilariously wicked comedy. It’s one of my favorite “coming out” narratives I’ve seen on television in a minute — devoid of sincerity and full of chaos. The series will surely be regarded as a raunchy gross out comedy, and it should be! But there’s also more bubbling beneath its astringent surface.

Billie is the most perfect embodiment of the term delulu I’ve seen on television, her toxic obsession with a boyfriend who does not return her affections turning her monstrous in her manipulations and psychological games. And she gets a queer storyline of her own, too, hooking up with her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, both of them attracted to each other because…they look like one another. Yes, Billie’s self-absorption leads to all-out doppelbanging. This is exactly the kind of humor Such Brave Girls excels at: deranged and delightful.

Perhaps it’s not for everyone, but I always find that to be true of the best comedies, because humor should have a distinct tone and texture to it. Such Brave Girls is definitely for the gays who like to laugh when everything is going wrong.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 861 articles for us.

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