Time of the Month: PATSY (AB FAB)

Let’s get one thing absolutely straight. Patsy  is a vile, disgusting, rude and absolutely horrendous human being. However, she is also an icon in every sense of the word and we all still want to be her. Despite her lack of any discernible career, her colourful language and uncertain actual identity – Patsy represents what we all kind of secretly want to have. Freedom.

Absolutely Fabulous is a pretty strong contender for funniest British comedy series of all time. Beginning in the early 90s, Ab Fab details the day to day lives of prosecco loving fashionistas Eddie and Patsy (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley respectively). Despite being in their 40s (don’t mention that!) and Eddie having an almost adult daughter, the two of them spend their time on all day benders, shopping in New York, ‘doing lunch’, taking ecstasy and all manner of other frivolities. They both behave like teenagers most of the time, which of course is the underlying punchline. Saffy (Julia Sawalha), Eddie’s daughter, acts like the parent scolding and scoffing at the two of them whilst Eddie and Patsy behave like overgrown 17 year olds on a Friday night. The series is based in London (‘Holland Park, not Shepherds Bush darling’) and focuses mostly on the misdemeanors and hilarious situations that the two women find themselves in. The series has gone on in one shape or another until today, and the Absolutely Fabulous movie is out now in the UK. It’s getting mixed reviews – so I thought I’d get in some good nostalgia in before the memory of the show is ruined forever.

So why Patsy and not Eddie? Eddie Monsoon (yes Eddie has a surname, and Patsy does not), is a semi-accomplished fashion something (we are never really sure what her job is). She got rich quite young, had 2 children (it was the fashion at the time), got two divorces and is now living a lavish and very comfortable lifestyle. Despite Saffy and Eddie’s comically reverse relationship – there are real moments of love between them (often punctured by Patsy). Eddie is an interesting character but she is motivated by two things – glamour and attention. Everything that Eddie does, every action she makes is either to be more fabulous or to get more attention. In one of the early episodes, Eddie begins banging pots, mugs and kettles in the kitchen to try and get Saffy’s attention. She is, for lack of a better description, a five year old in a forty year olds body. That’s not to say that Eddie isn’t interesting – she very much is. However, it is the mysterious Patsy who we all dream to be like, who is such an icon of British television.

The Eddie and Patsy relationship can almost be seen as those two voices that most of us have inside our heads. The head and the heart. What you should do vs what you want to do. Eddie is, though almost permanently intoxicated, a successful business fashionista with a family, a home and a lifestyle that she’s worked hard for. Eddie has to deal with motherhood (the hangup of the ‘having it all’ 80s), the fact that she is a little bit chubby and that she has responsibilities. Patsy, on the other hand, is the very definition of a free agent. If you want to really analyse the dynamic between the two of them, you can almost see it as the difference between certain ideas about feminism. Eddie wants ‘it all’, and has ultimately paid the price and is pretty unhappy when she isn’t off her tits on bolly. Patsy, on the other hand, has been continually self serving, has ignored the calls from society for women to have careers, families and the rest, and is living for herself alone. I mean, it’s hard to say whether she is ‘happy’, but she is a great deal more comfortable in her own skin than Eddie is.

The other thing we should really talk about (though I know Patsy wouldn’t want us to) is Patsy: the older woman. True to societal ideals, Patsy is disgusted at the idea of being old and refuses to acknowledge that her and Eddie might be ever so slightly older than 31. There is a constant running joke that no-one actually knows how old Patsy is, but we are inclined to believe she is at least in her 50s. The vast majority of women above 50 are either portrayed as maternal figures (mothers or grandmothers) or simply do not exist. Once women reach a certain age, they become invisible in society and this is largely due to their almost non-existent representation on the small or big screen (Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep are just two people who have spoken on this). Even if they do exist, it is unlikely to be in any capacity which celebrates and acknowledges their sexuality or femininity. Patsy, in complete opposition to what is expected of a woman over the age 45, positively thrives on sexuality alone. She is confident in her own style and body and attracts men wherever she goes. Whether she is dressed to go moshing at a gig, or ready for shopping in New York – Patsy is absolutely unapologetic about feeling fabulous. Not despite her age, because of it. It’s very rare to see a woman (especially an older woman) who has no insecurities about herself or sex. Whilst Eddie is constantly trying to change the way she looks (through minimal exercise and dreams of liposuction), Patsy doesn’t give a fuck.

Despite her outward vitriol to anyone who isn’t Eddie (and sometimes Eddie too!), Patsy has moments of vulnerability. They are far and few between, but they do happen. In one particularly memorable episode, Patsy is concerned about a letter from her doctor encouraging her to ‘check herself’ and seeks the advice of Saffy, who ends up examining Patsy herself. Of course the punchline comes when Mrs M (Eddie’s mother, Saffy’s grandmother) walks past the open door and witnesses Saffy and Patsy in what looks like an awkward tryst. Patsy’s abject disgust of Saffy, though, is put aside for a few short minutes, proving that Patsy has emotions and feelings beneath her cold, shiny veneer.

Patsy is, quite simply, a fucking icon. Everyone has a Patsy in their life and if you don’t – you need to find one. Whilst they certainly won’t guarantee stability or a shoulder to cry on, you’ll always be in for a fantastic ride.

 

Absolutely Fabulous The Movie is out now in cinemas across the UK!

#YouCanSeeThemBoth: ‘Sisters’ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

This week, I went to the cinema twice. Considering I’ve only been to the cinema four times in the past year (two of those visits were this week), that’s a pretty incredible achievement for me. Continue reading “#YouCanSeeThemBoth: ‘Sisters’ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’”

Veep’s ‘The Choice’ & How To Write A Good Abortion Episode

It took me three seasons to get into ‘Veep’. Actually, it took me until the second episode of season 3 to get into ‘Veep’ – an episode called ‘The Choice’. Continue reading “Veep’s ‘The Choice’ & How To Write A Good Abortion Episode”

Grace & Frankie: Life After Marriage

Something really special is happening in Netflix’s new baby Grace & Frankie. The series aired in it’s entirety a few weeks ago with relatively little promotion or advertisement, considering the impressive cast involved. Continue reading “Grace & Frankie: Life After Marriage”

8 Reasons Why You Need To Watch Broad City

I was a bit late to the party on this one. I am also completely aware that no-one on the right side of 20 uses that phrase either, so sorry about that. Anyway. If you haven’t heard of it, Broad City is a late night comedy central show which started out as a web series. Continue reading “8 Reasons Why You Need To Watch Broad City”

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Don’t Let the Man Get You Down

Ever since Parks & Rec announced that the seventh season would be the last, I have been wildly searching for something to replace the Pawnee shaped hole in my heart. I began re-watching 30 Rock again, almost as an act of denial. If I could just keep watching either Amy or Tina on repeat  for the rest of my life then maybe I could pretend that both shows had never ended… Continue reading “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Don’t Let the Man Get You Down”

8 Reasons You Should Be Watching Parks & Recreation

Parks and Recreation is a fantastic show. If you aren’t watching it, you should be. If you are watching it then good job. And if you’ve finished watching it then go back to season one and start that baby all over again. Seriously, I’m on my fourth re watch now and it only gets funnier and more excellent each time.

I wanted to write an in depth essay about the merits and achievements of Parks and Rec, something meaningful and articulate. Instead, I have decided that the best way of showcasing how great it is, is just to give you the definitive list of reasons why you should all be watching Parks and Recreation.

1) Leslie Knope/Amy Poehler

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Parks & Rec is centred around a small town local government parks department representative called Leslie Knope. Leslie has enormous amounts of ambition, loves waffles, friends and work (in that order) and seriously enjoys her job. She’s a wonderful friend to all, completely optimistic about everything and an out and proud feminist (“if I had to have a strippers name it would be equality”).

What makes Leslie different to a lot of female characters on television is not that she is driven and succeeds. In fact, she doesn’t even always succeed, for example (spoiler alert) getting voted out of office in season 6. The thing about Leslie is that she takes her failures on the chin and always makes the best out of a bad situation. She is never embarrassed by them and she always motivates herself to do better.

Basically, she is a well rounded woman who has flaws like the rest of us. It is a rarity to see women, especially in comedy, with these character traits. Leslie is strong and independent, but she is also human and relies on the people around her too.

2)  Female Friendships

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Speaking of Leslie’s support network, female friendship is something which Parks and Recreation  excels in. From Ann and Leslie’s beautiful friendship to Leslie’s mentoring of April (and April secretly loving it) Parks and Rec really gets the whole sisterhood thing. The women on the show constantly support each other, respect each other and they never argue about boys (with the possible minor exception of Ann and April…damn you Andy). Leslie’s Galentines Day tradition really underscores this incredibly written portrayal of female friendship (Valentines Day for girl-friends = Galentines Day).

 Parks also recognises that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but even when Ann and Leslie have a full blow snakejuice fuelled argument – they both realize they are wrong and reconcile together;  their friendship means more than their pride.

3)  Healthy relationships

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Another type of relationship which Parks and Recreation wins at is the romantic kind. Throughout the series, most of the main characters get into serious and not-so-serious relationships both with each other and guest characters. Whilst each relationship is incredibly different (can’t really compare Andy & April to Chris & Ann) they are all portrayed as healthy and loving. In season 2, Ron’s ex wife Tammy shows up and they rekindle (if you can use that word) their affair. It quickly becomes apparent that, whilst incredibly funny, their relationship is damaging to Ron and his happiness. The parks department all support Ron in breaking up with Tammy, none more than Leslie and in the end they prevail. Parks constantly shows the importance of friendship in relationships, as well as respect and trust.

Also if you don’t ship Ben and Leslie then what are you doing with your life?

4) Supporting Cast

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Never have I watched a show where I love every single member of the supporting cast. I *literally* cannot pick a favourite character. They are all well rounded, funny, interesting people with their own views of the world. They band together like a little family, one that I think we would all love to be a part of. The creators of the show spent so much time developing all of the characters individually, and it’s a unique touch that makes Parks and Rec that much more special.

 

5) Chris Pratt

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Okay, I do not have a favourite but Andy Dwyer/Chris Pratt deserves his own shoutout. Andy is hilarious, simple, caring and loyal. He was only supposed to be in the first season, and after splitting up with Ann – his character was supposed to leave Pawnee forever. Could you imagine? I for one can’t envision an Andy Dwyer-less Parks and Rec and thank goodness neither could Mike Schur and co. Andy has a fantastic heart, and what makes him even greater is that some of his best lines were improvised by Pratt onset.

 

6) It started life as an Office spin off but is wayyyyyyyyyyy better *

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Parks and Recreation started life as an Office (US) spinoff. As much as I like The Office, I am eternally grateful that Parks got it’s own path for television. The thing is, Parks and Rec is so much better than The Office. Instead of downcast characters that spend all day winding each other up and tearing each other down, Parks and Rec is filled with positivity and characters who are always supportive of each other. The humour in Parks comes from the situations that the Parks department find themselves in, not from chastising each other (apart from Jerry/Larry/Gary). Even then, we aren’t laughing at Jerry because we know that he has a beautiful wife and a massive penis (spoiler!)

 

7) Celebrity Cameos

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Celebrity cameos are far and few between but when they happen, they are amazing. It’s not the definitive reason to watch the show but seeing Jon Hamm as the office intern, and watching Leslie meeting Michelle Obama are certainly in my top 10 TV moments ever.

8) You will feel like part of the show

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Due to the way in which Parks and Recreation is filmed, mockumentary style with minimal lighting/staging, the characters really get a chance to interact with the camera in their own ways. From Tom Haverford’s surprised grin to Ben Wyatt’s exasperated plea for help, it helps us get a better insight into these characters thoughts and feelings. It also makes us feel like Leslie and the gang are talking TO us rather than around us. It’s beautiful.

The seventh season is currently airing so you still have time to catch seasons 1 – 6 on Netflix before the finale!

* DISCLAIMER I do like The Office ! You have to admit, it just isn’t Parks is it?