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16 Dec 2023


NextImg:Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Such Brave Girls’ On Hulu, About A Single Mom And Her Adult Daughters Who Can Barely Keep It Together

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Such Brave Girls

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It seems obvious that the more quickly a sitcom establishes just who its main characters are, the sooner it can start mining humor from those characters’ personality quirks. But not every sitcom is able to do that; in fact, it’s quite rare when the first episode of a sitcom has more than maybe one well-drawn character. A new British sitcom on Hulu establishes all three of its main characters right out of the gate.

Opening Shot: Two women are driving along a suburban road, when one them gets a text on their phone.

The Gist: Deb (Louise Brealey) is a fortysomething single mom two her two adult daughters, who still live with her. Josie (Kat Sadler) is obsessed with being depressed; she almost discusses nothing but the fragile state of her mental health. Her younger sister Billie (Lizzie Davidson) is infatuated with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Nicky (Sam Buchanan), whom she calls “the love of my life.”

As Deb and Josie pick Billie up from her job — she plays a green-faced witch at a kids’ playplace — they all talk about their various foibles. Deb has just started dating a guy named Dev (Paul Bazely); Josie points out that Deb closes her eyes when she has sex with Dev, which Deb acknowledges, but figures it’s worth it because “he’s got a massive house. Massive.”

The first time Deb brings Dev to their humble house to meet his daughters, all she really wishes for is that the three of them appear normal. That gets blown to pieces immediately as Josie blathers on to him about her depression, and Billie doomscrolls the Insta of the blonde she saw Nicky with. Deb and Dev go into the kitchen, and Josie accidentally catches Dev fingering Deb under her dress; he stares at Josie while he’s doing it.

That night, Dev expresses to Deb that the thought of Josie’s resting sad face is killing his hard-on. The next morning, Deb informs her daughter about her boner-killing sad face and that she should “stop thinking” so much. Deb helps Josie out with some retail therapy, buying her a dress that Josie thinks “makes me look like a milkmaid.” In the meantime, Billie asks her sister to bleach her hair to match the girl she’s seen Nicky with, and toughs it out despite how much the bleach hurts her scalp.

Such Brave Girls
Photo: HULU

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Such Brave Girls is similar to a number of Britcoms about people barely holding it together, from family settings like in Breeders to shows about singletons, like Rain Dogs.

Our Take: Kat Sadler, who plays Josie, is the creator and writer of Such Brave Girls, and she has a pretty good handle on the angst that grips single women these days. What she’s done is not only multiply it by three by distributing that angst between a single mom and her daughters, but then tweaks those women’s idiosyncrasies just a little bit.

Sadler pretty much establishes the three women’s various foibles in that one car ride at the beginning of the first episode. If Josie is in love with anything, it’s her fragile mental health. Billie’s infatuation with the lunkheaded Nicky is so unhealthy that, in the second episode, she doesn’t seem to be at all fazed when he gets her pregnant, despite his lack of commitment. Deb’s point of view can be summed up by this quote: “As you get older, you learn to love with less of your heart… Less and less, until eventually there’s nothing left anymore.”

Such Brave Girls isn’t afraid of being bawdy — the title card is spelled out in pubic hair, after all — but the bawdiness doesn’t dominate as much as you might think. Sadler leads with the women’s various personality flaws, then gets bawdy when it’s called for. Josie telling her bookstore coworker the gory details about what she saw Dev do to her mother the previous night, or Billie texting Nicky threats to kill herself then immediately take them back, are the kinds of character-driven gags that sustain a comedy for multiple seasons, and Sadler has done a good job of establishing those characters quickly.

Sex and Skin: Dev and Deb seem to get in all sorts of awkward sexual positions, but are mostly clothed while doing it; Billie and Nicky’s sex is more straightforward, but also mostly clothed.

Parting Shot: Billie tells Josie that Nicky never uses a condom and that she hasn’t had a period in two months due to stress. Josie is appropriately alarmed.

Sleeper Star: It may be strange to cite the creator and writer of a show as a sleeper, but as an actor, Kat Sadler has some pretty expert comedic timing, an expressive face, and the ability to make even neutral lines funny just by delivering them out of the side of her mouth.

Most Pilot-y Line: After the sisters have a scuffle, complete with Josie being squirted with ketchup, Deb tries to return Josie’s dress. When the clerk refuses it, Deb cries, a callback to a previous line; if we were that clerk, though, no amount of tears would persuade us to process a return for a dress coated in ketchup.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Such Brave Girls could be a little funnier than it is, but the three main characters have such well-defined personality quirks that seeing them interact with each other and the world around them is pretty entertaining.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.