Raised by Wolves: TV review - Working-class heroes from Wolves are a howling success
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.
Tuesday 24 December 2013
Well, this was brilliant. Raised by Wolves was a half-hour sitcom pilot written by Caitlin Moran and her sister Caroline Moran. It was set in the modern day, but based on their own childhood growing up as two of eight, home-schooled, in a three-bed council house in Wolverhampton.
Our heroines were sisters Germaine (the whimsical sex-obsessed one) and Aretha (the angry ginger one). As their opposing personalities dictated, Germaine and Aretha were locked into a bitter sibling rivalry, informed by the great works of literature, pop and TV tat constitute their education.
That's right, this show featured young working-class people reading books and engaging with culture. Unusual, isn't it? As the Moran sisters have identified, TV usually portrays the working class as a bunch of Vicky Pollards and Frank Gallaghers, stereotypes that not only distort social policy debate, but are also increasingly boring to watch.
Raised by Wolves was way more shameless than Shameless, in the best, most vagina-joke-filled sense of the word, and this novelty factor made it even more riotous good fun than it would have been anyway. It was too anarchic to be angsty, but, like E4's My Mad Fat Diary, should still provide solace to the misfit teenagers for whom most teen TV is just another reason to feel bad about yourself.
Helen Monks and Alexa Davies as the sisters were both fantastic, as was Philip Jackson (Inspector Japp from Poirot) as their aging stoner Grampy, but I was particularly enamoured with Rebekah Staton's Della, the chain-smoking, eco-warrior mum who used "David Cameron" as a swear word. When I grow up I want to be just like her.
In fact, the only minor criticism you might have was that the dialogue was sometimes too ostentatiously amusing, as if it had been written by exactly the kind of clever-clogs teens it featured – but then, in a way, it was.
By my calculation, that means Raised by Wolves's potential fan base includes teenage girls who wear too much black eyeliner, everyone who's ever lived on a council estate, and all people who like funny jokes. Surely, Channel 4, that's enough to justify a series commission?
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