Review of Great Boys – This hot, tender comedy will pierce your heart Television

JAck’s mother, Peggy, is busy in her college apartment, breeding her bedroom at home as best she can. She got the idea from Paul O’Grady’s program about animal repatriation of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. This is Jack’s second attempt at student life and they hope he will be able to stay the course this time.

Jack Rookethe new six-part comedy by, Great Boys (Channel 4)based on his autobiography stage showsfocuses on a – yes – character named Jack (from Derry Girls Dylan Llewellyn), who as a teenager faces a gigantic loss. “It’s shit,” says the narrator, voiced by Rooke, “when he’s 57 and it’s your dad and he’s the only one.” The opening minutes of the first episode are a joke from those surreal early days of mourning. The strange thoughts, the lasagna and the banalities offered by kind people who don’t quite know what to say, the comfortable TV and the comfortable eating. Jack and Peggy (Camille Coduri, whose tears almost took my breath away at one point) almost see each other. “We stayed together during the illness of dads like Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. But really, we were sad. Like Eamonn and Ruth. “

Then it’s time for Jack to go to college. It coincides with the first anniversary of his dad’s death and, away from the props he has collected around him, he becomes so depressed that he has to return home.

It’s an arrangement that, in keeping with the show’s careful, tender tone, takes its time introducing a shy, closed Jack to viewers and filling his mournful but loving world. It’s warm and fun, but with a melancholy undercurrent that fades in and out as the episode – and the series – goes on, but never disappears completely.

Jack tries again at Brent University the following year. The meat of the series is about him – worried, nervous and nerdy – establishing himself, going out and making friends, especially with Danny (Jon Showing), the boy of lay boys who accepts Jack, but is eager to see him maximize the social and sexual opportunities offered by freshers week and beyond, as Danny himself intends. Danny, at 25, is a mature student, and whether his late onset has anything to do with the antidepressants he is secretly taking is not clear.

The growing friendship between the two young men, in a genre and a world when such things are rarely exposed or made part of the cultural narrative, is truly uplifting. “Beers?” says Danny, pleased, while his roommate comes carrying cans. “No, ravioli,” says Jack. They move on. Danny assumes from Jack’s Eric Cantona poster that he is a football fan. “I only really know him as an actor,” says Jack, adding in a voiceover to the audience that “Eric’s will is coming out in You and the Night. It’s very artistic.”

Other friends and characters get. Katy Wix takes a huge turn as a painstakingly funny Jules, a thirty-year-old student union representative for whom a university has been, is and will be as long as she can cling to it the best time of her life. Among the students themselves is a hot girl Mad Debs (Rhiannon Clements), who burns brightly but briefly. Corinne (Izuka Hoyle) is there to work, but can still see that there is more to university than lectures, and that some of it may involve Danny. Rounding out the band – or maybe he’s more like a mother duck leading offspring of miserable ducklings to water – is self-assured, world-wise Yemi (Olisa Odele), who is too cool for school, but not too cool to help the swing. fresh.

Although it is softer and less furious, the combination of sincerity, heart and wit of Big Boys – and the seriousness with which it deals with young people and the problems they face – evokes the powerful. Sex Education. At the same time, Rooke makes it entirely his own business – and one that can pierce your heart when you least expect it (“Proud always, Dad,” his father signs at the end of a letter that has so far been played for. Laughs) . It still feels like a rare and precious thing to be in the company of the characters of a show (especially young male characters) who agree, who are funny without an endless snark, and who intend to build each other rather than tear down each other. More power to their elbows, even if it is still mostly spent on masturbation. Some things don’t change.

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