If you attempted to compile a list of great (or at least well loved) sitcoms, you would soon find the hoary hand of history resting on your shoulder. Generally speaking the past decade has been unkind to the genre, which has become something of a byword for mediocrity. The exceptions to this trend have been the more leftfield ‘cult’ offerings – Spaced is probably the prime example – that may have dispensed with the founding precept of the genre (that it could conceivably be happening in real life), but still managed to achieve its ultimate goal of warmly capturing essential human truths. The surreal elements of Spaced were more than gimmicks – they were simply a way of capturing the experience of being a certain age. A psychological realism if you will. So, in theory, Mongrels (BBC3), a sitcom that stars anthropomorphic puppet animals, could have something to offer. Sadly it doesn’t, as unlike Spaced it doesn’t start with an experience of life. If anything it seems to have taken bad sitcoms as a starting point. The characters are defined by single traits, and when one of these traits is ‘metrosexuality’ according to the show’s website, alarm bells start ringing.
The idea of metrosexuality was invented by idiots who were terrified of people who aren’t exactly like them. It is both the mark of lazy writing and BBC3’s perennial deference to folk with the mental capacity of shellfish that such categorisation would be used in lieu of nuanced characterisation. On watching the programme, it became apparent that metrosexuality seems to mean being slightly cultured – i.e. reading newspapers – which remains the character’s single defining trait. Several reasons to worry about the calibre of the BBC’s writers all wrapped up in one confusing bundle there. Unless you find the idea of animals talking intrinsically funny – in which case you’re five or someone’s embarrassing uncle -the fact that the protagonists are animals adds nothing. In fact, it makes it seem even more listless and misguided, and ultimately pointless. They end up sitting rather awkwardly between humans and animals, and have none of the appeal of either. It also suffers greatly at the hands of horrible attempts at ‘quirkiness’ that have the unfortunate aroma of humour by committee (haha, a song – how novel). Maybe the whole thing is part of a Tory plot to vilify foxes. But probably, it’s just shite.
Oh, one more thing! -Apparently the creators might be done for plagiarism of a similar puppet animal sitcom from a few years back that some of them actually worked on. Guys, if you’re going to plagiarise (allegedly), plagiarise something good eh?