Siblings episode 1 review

Review Jake Laverde
8 Aug 2014 - 06:33

An Always Sunny-ish new sitcom on BBC Three? Sign us up. Here's Jake's review of Siblings episode 1...

This review contains spoilers.

When you think of most classic sitcom setups, the common theme is of people trapped together against their will. Steptoe And Son, Porridge (literally in that case) and Red Dwarf all explore the relationships of people who have no choice but to spend time in each other's company. Siblings takes a slightly different tack, Hannah and Dan are stuck with each other because no one else in their right mind would want them.

Siblings set up is as simple as its title - brother and sister duo Hannah and Dan are horrible, self obsessed people with practically zero redeeming qualities. Played by Fresh Meat's Charlotte Ritchie and Totally Tom's Tom Stourton, they go through life with zero self awareness or shame, thinking only of themselves. In this first episode alone Hannah encourages her boss's alcoholism so he overlooks her constant lateness and Dan ruins eighteen months' work for a would-be screenwriter because he's bored of being alone. But Hannah's cosy worklife is shattered when she gets a new boss who's looking to lose some dead weight.

BBC three's recent hit Him & Her was similarly populated with utterly irredeemable monsters, Kerry Howard as Laura being the best example. But Siblings avoids the bleakness of that series by painting Hannah and Dan as somewhat naïve rather than deliberately spiteful. Towards the end of this opening episode, Hannah is pulled into a situation she'd do anything to forget but manages to turn to her advantage. Though this series, on evidence of this opening episode at least, goes for awkward/cringe style gags, there are plenty of silly one liners and a running reference to certain Keanu Reeves trilogy will bring a few smiles. The light tone and broad humour put this more in tune with long running cult US sitcom It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia than the bedsit grime of Stefan Golaszewski's Him & Her.

Both of the leads throw themselves admirably into their roles. One of the biggest laughs in this episode is entirely due to Charlotte's perfectly timed expression and Tom Stourton is in his element as wide eyed idiot manchild Dan. Both seem to relish saying the unsayable and are convincing in both their performances and as a brother and sister combo.

There's a strong sense of identity in Siblings as well, something which has eluded many recent sitcoms. Creator and co-writer Keith Akushie has clearly done his homework here. This episode quickly establishes that Siblings is all about how people react  to the duo. Thankfully Hannah and Dan are drawn broadly enough that we can't really hate them no matter how awful they may get. So while they're the type of people anyone sane would want to avoid, this show could well grow on you.

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