Raised by Wolves, TV review: Caitlin Moran's Channel 4 series makes for an enjoyable trip down memory lane

Family sitcom pulls back the shower curtain on female adolescence

Ellen E. Jones
Monday 16 March 2015 23:30
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Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

Caitlin Moran, the gurning face of British feminism, has written a sitcom with her sister Caroline. It’s based on their years as the eldest of eight home-schooled children, living with an eccentric eco-warrior mum on a Wolverhampton council estate, and it’s great.

But then, if you saw the pilot for Raised by Wolves, you already know that and have been eagerly awaiting this full series since Christmas 2013.

Most of the action revolves around Caitlin’s alter-ego Germaine (Helen Monks), a bovver boot-wearing, ebullient over-sharer, and Caroline’s Aretha, an icy-cool introvert played by Alexa Davies. Both young actresses are brilliant, but especially Davies, who looks so much like the real Caroline Moran I can’t quite convince myself they’re not related. Molly Risker as third daughter, Yoko, also got more screen time here than in the pilot, but it was still their straight-talking survivalist mum Della (Rebekah Staton) who had all the best lines.

Nostalgic warmth: Caitlin Moran's series Raised By Wolves

She took her brood to the local common to forage for food and “learn how not to starve to death”. Later, when Yoko, overwhelmed by Germaine’s graphic description of menstruation, whimpered, “I don’t think I want to be a woman, mum”, Della had some words of encouragement: “No one does, love, but the men are too chicken-shit to handle it, so here we are.” Amen, sister. You can quite see how a woman this magnificent would raise the writers of Channel 4’s most lovable new sitcom.

Raised by Wolves waves the flag for both working-class intellectualism and Wolvo pride (“We’re not southern twats and we’re not northern twats; we’re Midlands twats”), leading to comparisons with the Manchester-set Shameless, but it has more in common with flashback family sitcoms like Everybody Hates Chris and Malcolm in the Middle.

The difference, more radical than it should be, is that while those shows are from the point of view of teen boys, Raised by Wolves pulls back the shower curtain on female adolescence. First periods, first bra-buying and lustful crushes on prats called Lee; even if you yourself were never one of these weird, wondrous creatures, it makes for an enjoyable trip down memory lane.

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