For what seems like eons, I've been hoping to catch the rather brilliant-sounding Britcom Miranda, starring Miranda Hart. After making the "Merry Christmas to MEEEEEEE" discovery that the entire run of The I.T. Crowd is now on Hulu and mainlining that series in about a week's time, I made the "Happy New Year!" discovery that Miranda's first two seasons are also available.
Spoilers ahoy, obviously.
From the very beginning, Miranda establishes itself as a little different from the run of the mill sitcom. Thankfully, British television is a little more willing to break the "safe and easy" mold than American television. There's a bit of a "breaking the fourth wall" heart to heart with the audience and Miranda's character, conveniently also named Miranda, is the owner of a joke shop, purchased with her inheritance. There's also the firm establishment of three themes that will apparently run through the show. Miranda's long running romantic interest in Gary Preston, a wonderfully goofy/punny/naughty in a middle school sort of sense of humor and Miranda Hart's willingness to go for physical humor with charming abandon. In a flashback to a previous meeting with the aforementioned Gary, she accidentally shimmies out of her skirt while dancing with him. Amy Poehler's been quoted as saying "There's power in looking silly and not caring that you do." Miranda Hart is willing to be silly on camera, and it's awesome because she owns it and because her character is just so darned happy most of the time, not "lonely, sad single girl". You can understand, as a viewer, why people would be attracted to her. You, as a viewer, want to root for her.
A great deal of humor is wrung out of several comedy standards, but somehow, it doesn't feel tired. Miranda has a dainty, much more petite best friend, Stevie, a snooty mother, played by Patricia Hodge, who sounds desperate to pair her off, and a tendency to lose all perspective on acceptable behavior when she's socially uncomfortable. As an example, she nervously tells her crush, Gary, that she's married and has two children, then blithely kills them off when she realizes he's still single. The 6'1" Hart wrings a lot of jokes out of being mistaken for a "sir", humiliatingly named specialty size clothing shops, accidentally wandering into a store that caters to transvestites, being nicknamed "Queen Kong" in school, and being unwillingly roped into trying on wedding dresses for two giggly, girly, recently engaged schoolmates.
The thing that prevents it from feeling tired and rehashed is the refreshing number of molds it shatters along the way. Miranda's wonderfully at ease with who she is most of the time. Yes, she sometimes panics socially, but she's also obviously an intelligent character, if somewhat clumsy and goofy and excitable. She's not desperate to pair off with someone, anyone, nor desperate to have a baby, though, which are the usual Hollywood comedy staples. The best thing of all?
Gary, played by Tom Ellis, is a very attractive man. His Gary is well-traveled, a chef, polite, seemingly an intelligent and nice guy. He's not a rude jerk, not a greasy playboy, not a character that would cause you, the viewer to think, "Seriously? If he didn't look like that, would you have any interest in him?" at all. He, in fact, shows the first signs of interest in Miranda, asking her over to dinner at the restaurant where he works, which is handily situated next door. Of course, this being 1) a comedy and 2) the first episode, things don't go quite as smoothly as they seem to be when Gary heads up to Miranda's flat after the meal. I won't ruin the surprise totally, but let's just say Gary would probably not be alone in hurrying off before Miranda has a chance to explain why the apartment is full of some unusual items. Again, it's a nice change that he apologizes for doing so the next day.
The first episode wraps up with Miranda on that wedding dress shopping trip. The giggly former schoolgirls talk her into trying one on, which she pronounces a "chiffon-based anaphylactic shock". Of course, Gary AND her mother happen by the shop window within moments of each other, leading the usual hilarious misunderstanding, with her mum fainting from pure joy and Gary being chased down the street by Miranda, in wedding dress and canvas sneakers, desperate to explain she's not desperate.
Let's just say I'm also looking forward to the other eleven episodes currently on Hulu.