Breeders, season two review: An angry parenting comedy somewhere between amusing and bemusing

The comedy’s second series, starring Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard, is like ‘Motherland’, but darker and with more anger

Sean O'Grady
Friday 28 May 2021 07:51
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Breeders trailer

I’m still not quite sure what to make of Breeders (Sky One). Its distant ancestry is the traditional family sitcom, but it’s uncomfortable, and part biting social satire. It’ll amuse, though it’ll never make you LOL. It’s intriguing, without being compelling. The writing is sharp and witty, sardonic and ironic, but amid the perfectly formed wisecracks and zingers, the dialogue falls short of being believable.

The creators, back with their second run of this oddity, are to be congratulated on their inventiveness, but I’m not sure there’s a “genre” it falls into. Not to worry, though. Martin Freeman (also the lead), Chris Addison and Simon Blackwell are like three mad scientists let loose in the telly labs. The result is like Motherland, but darker and with more anger. Lots and lots of anger. More anger, in fact, than you might experience if you had to tell Priti Patel her immigration policy was unworkable, or you told Jeremy Clarkson to make do with a plate of cold chicken for his supper. That sort of anger.

So, yes, the “Breeders” are breeding angry. There’s anger between the tense “breeding” parents themselves, Paul (Martin Freeman) and Aly (Daisy Haggard), a couple of professionals living in a duplex flat in what looks to be a busy part of London – a comfortable lifestyle lived uncomfortably. They are alternately angry with their kids, Ava (Eve Prenelle), about 11, and, especially, Luke (Alex Eastwood), who is coming up to his 13th birthday, and thus on the brink of an even angrier phase in his growing up. Paul and Aly swear at Luke because he occasionally fails to pick his little sister up from school, and, despite his lack of a sense of duty, he wants a new mobile phone.

So Paul keeps getting angry. He even gets angry with a succession of therapists who try and fail to relieve him of his anger, because actually, he thinks anger is fine and a legitimate reaction in anyone who seeks only “a sense of fairness and order and politeness I think we all need, and I’m not prepared to give that up”. He’s passive-aggressive and deeply unlikeable, but, as with most Freeman characters, there’s something of the everyman about him, something a little redeeming.

Anyway, everyone calms down in the end. Luke gets his phone, Ava gets Luke’s old phone and they all have a nice birthday party and a pasta supper, and everyone, viewer especially, is left wondering what that was all about. I’m not angry, though, just somewhere between amused and bemused, trying to understand this new breed of comedy.

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