Dark comedies for dark times

Harriet Metcalfe discusses her favourite dark comedies, which will cheer you up if you're feeling low

Harriet Metcalfe
23rd May 2020
Credit: IMDb, Netflix
I'm a long way from university and so many people I love (and some I do not like, let alone love, but at this point I even miss them and the drama). But you've got to laugh otherwise we'd all be in tears 24/7. And that's the magic of dark comedy- seeing the light in what is, well- a pretty shite time.

I'm sure it's the same for a lot of people, but lockdown has given me time to catch up on all the stuff... although I'm still not watching Lord of the Rings. In fact, my favourite TV genre is experiencing a little bit of a resurgence right now; last month we had season two of After Life, this month was Dead to Me - and Netflix still has a whole host of shows for me to work through.

An underrated one we all seem to have forgotten about is Living with Yourself, starring not only one Paul Rudd - but two. It's on the list for me to go back and revisit soon - especially because of Aisling Bea, who was brilliant as Kate, Miles' wife, despite very little screentime. Whilst Netflix are still to renew the show for a second season, I can see shows like this being in high demand. No-one wants anything too serious or real-worldy, and no-one, for the love of god, wants a series or a film set during a pandemic. What we all really want to see Paul Rudd fighting with another Paul Rudd for eight episodes.

Credit: Netflix, Youtube

I'm sometimes laughing and questioning whether I even should be

I am horribly late to the party of Channel 4's The End of the F**cking World, but it's still worth it. With Netflix comedies - I think you're supposed to know when to laugh - just follow how the other characters react and you're along the right lines. The complete deadpan nature of The End of the F**cking World means I'm sometimes laughing and questioning whether I even should be. Alyssa (Jessica Barden) establishes this better than any character in season one; "Last week he said I needed a bigger bra. So I threw a chicken kiev at him." Part in disbelief that she said that, part loving that the nearest thing to throw was a chicken kiev - all I know is that Alyssa was probably in the right there. The dynamic between her and James (Alex Lawther) is so brilliant, and it's making me long for a road-trip. Although preferably not with a psychopath.

Credit: IMDb

And from the BBC - I mean we can't not mention Inside No.9. They've made dark comedy into more of an art form than most shows can ever hope to do within their own genres - with each episode being a standalone story, you're never distracted by plot lines or who's who, and ending with a plot twist that I almost never see coming. This has been on my list to watch for a little while now, and I'm yet to finish an episode without internally/externally screaming about what just happened. Episode 2 in series 1, in particular, sets the show apart from other dark comedies. It has no dialogue at all- it's more of a silent film than a normal TV show, and the dramatic classical music that goes on in the background feels like it was written specifically for this. And I can't get jealous of going outside- since each episode has one setting...you guessed it, inside no.9.

Credit: BBC Trailers, Youtube

You can't deny that there's a weird sense of optimism in these shows

The world does kind of feel like a horror movie at the minute- coming from someone who can hardly sit through a trailer for a horror film, that's not such a great thing. But these shows and so many more are keeping me going, because they see the better side of what is, ordinarily, not a great situation. Sure, the humour might not always be for everyone (I felt that more with season two of After Life) - but you can't deny that there's a weird sense of optimism in these shows. Dark comedies are great for darker times like these, and they might even make you see the lighter side of things after all.

I just can't wait until I can watch these with my mates again, in person.

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AUTHOR: Harriet Metcalfe
English Literature BA student. Loves film, TV, books and coffee. Thinks "Thor: The Dark World" gets too much hate. Twitter: @hattiemetcalfe

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