There’s a great sitcom to be written about women’s lives after they’ve had children but The Letdown isn’t it. Full marks to it for showing what it’s really like when women have children – how it’s gruelling, how there’s little in the way of support, and how your body’s just been through hell and your hormones are all over the place – but can The Letdown maybe make us laugh as well? It is meant to be a comedy, after all.
The Letdown should be at least as funny as Fleabag, a show which was heavy on the reality of women’s lives and which has tackled a few serious issues but also had funny characters and situations (the over-attentive waitress in the first episode of series 2, for example). In the two episodes of The Letdown series 2 we’ve watched so far (they’re all on iView) there’s been a kind of funny series of scenes involving clothes recycling. And to be honest, Fleabag’s over-attentive waitress made us laugh a lot more. A lot lot more.
And yes, we’ve written this kind of thing about The Letdown before. About how it’s basically a dramedy and should if it had any integrity, give back whatever funding it got from the Comedy Showroom scheme. And watching series 2, we’ve really tried to find the funny: one of us is from Adelaide and howled with laughter at the notion, put forward by the main character Audrey’s husband, that Adelaide is actually a really great place to live, especially “at festival time”. Yeah, good one.
So, we’ll just say this: it’s not the worst thing ever that The Letdown exists because sitcoms focusing on the reality of female character’s lives, especially in the years when they’re having children, are rare on the ground and it’s great that this area is being explored. And series 2 is particularly interesting as it’s focusing on the question of how having a child has affected the main female characters and their partners. We particularly liked that the makers aren’t flinching from showing post-pregnancy mental and physical health problems in all their reality. And exploring how biology, age and luck impact the outcome of having a second child. Or the tension, infighting and jealousies amongst groups of mothers of young children as they succeed or fail to have that second child. We just think this could be a whole lot funnier.
There’s a scene in the second episode where Ester, who’s desperate for a second child via IVF, is talking to her partner in a café about whether they should keep trying. As they’re talking, a waiter then comes over to take their order and recommends the eggs. Ester says she wants the eggs. The waiter goes away. Then the waiter comes back and says the eggs are no longer available. Ester then realises that it’s all over for her in terms of having a second child. “Sorry Ester, no eggs for you.” Geddit? Eggs. It’s a pun.
And that, despite all the great work The Letdown’s doing to represent women in their child-having years, is about as funny as The Letdown is ever going to be.