Doll & Em, Sky Living - review: 'This best-friends-in-Hollywood comedy needs to cut closer to the bone'
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Wednesday 19 February 2014
What's the special thrill of watching actors play themselves? It's in guessing where the version ends and the truth begins and then marvelling at the performers' willingness to expose themselves to ridicule. Sky Living's new series Doll & Em, featuring real-life childhood friends Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells, is engaging, and yet it seems to have sidestepped this sort of brave exposure.
A clever opening sequence swiftly introduces the set-up. Emily, the more successful of the two, is in LA pursing her acting career. Doll invites herself over to stay following a nasty break-up and becomes Emily's personal assistant and her friend. Awkwardness inevitably ensures. There's the two in a hot-tub, in bra and knickers, competing for the attention of a man neither of them particularly fancies; there's Doll prattling on, while Emily tries to prepare for a scene in her trailer; there's Emily insensitively complaining about her swanky dinner party, while Doll suffers more mundane misery at home.
It's an intriguing portrait of how resentment can simmer away in friendships, only partially obscured by genuine affection, but it would be much more intriguing if it dared scrape closer to the bone. Alas, Mortimer seems to have spent all her promotional interviews attempting to reassure the world that this on-screen relationship bears no resemblance whatsoever to the real Doll and Em, and I'm inclined to believe her.
Not only do the two leads get on famously in real life, we're told, but so too do their families. The show is produced by Mortimer's husband, the actor Alessandro Nivola. Doll's husband, the photographer Mischa Richter, took stills photographs. Doll's children play Emily's children and Emily's mum was on set to help out with childcare. Evidently, they're also well enough liked in the business to attract decent celebrity cameos. Bradley Cooper, Chloë Sevigny and Susan Sarandon all appear in the first two episodes. Later shows promise John Cusack, Andy Garcia and Noel Fielding. And, of course, both women were born well connected. They became friends through their fathers, Rumpole of the Bailey creator John Mortimer and satirist John Wells.
It's this inherited privilege, and the insecurity it must occasion, that would make for truly self-lacerating subject matter. Instead, Doll & Em satirises a Hollywood diva persona that's already done to death and, in any case, was never really associated with nice-girl Emily Mortimer. These women must know where the jugular is – perhaps they're just biding their time before they go for it.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
25 years of Disney: How Darth Vader, Iron Man, Elsa and Pixar's geniuses helped the company conquer the world (again)
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account