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Review – Mrs. Brown’s Boys

July 4, 2012

Mrs. Brown’s Boys – Seven – 9:00pm Wednesday – AUS / BBC One – UK

It may have been on the air for just a week but Channel 7 has already declared the BBC comedy series Mrs. Brown’s Boys “Australia’s #1 new comedy”, as if that means anything. Mrs. Brown’s Boys is a filthy-mouthed old-fashioned sitcom starring Brendan O’Carroll in drag as Mrs. Brown. This is an odd sitcom to try and get a handle on because while the show is certainly playing to the cheap seats – one big comic scene involves something getting inadvertently shoved up somebody’s butt – the show also has a weird slightly meta undercurrent that makes the broader moments more tolerable.

The balancing act on display in the first episode of Mrs. Brown’s Boys leans more towards the cheap gags than the meta-commentary and unfortunately the show is less interesting because of it. The plot involving one of Mrs. Brown’s sons getting dumped by his girlfriend and Mrs. Brown scheming to get them back together is one-note sitcom trash. There’s an elaborate setup, there’s wackiness involving a taser that you can see coming a mile away, and it’s all wrapped up by the end credits. There’s nothing in this side of the show worth bothering with. We’ve seen the foul-mouthed old woman trope before and we’ve seen the meddling mother trope before, however, we get glimpses here and there of things that we don’t see all that often and are actually quite fun.

O’Carroll breaks the fourth wall by talking directly to the audience at home, much like Miranda does in her similarly old-fashioned self-titled sitcom, and it’s that breakdown between the show playing out its clichéd storylines and its acknowledgement that it is just a sitcom that’s rather funny. There’s a moment where O’Carroll really milks a tender moment for all the ‘awws’ he can get from the studio audience before turning to them and saying ‘it’s a man in fecking dress!’ to cut them off. It indulges in the expectations of the sitcom and then undercuts them. The other highlight is when Mrs. Brown is out at the pub with her daughter but has forgotten her bag at home, so she hops out past the cameras and across a few sets to go grab it. These are only small moments scattered throughout the episode, but they have such life and are so unexpected (especially as the rest of the show is so run of the mill) that they’re really funny.

Mrs. Brown’s Boys is crass and cheap, and feels very much like the sort of lame sitcom Ricky Gervais spoofed with When The Whistle Blows, but if you can get past that it has an infectious energy. The show doesn’t make it easy on you with its groan-worthy one-liners and love of shoving things up people’s asses for a laugh, but you can see something fun in there. The show is helped immensely by the supporting cast members constantly breaking down into giggles – nothing is quite as enjoyable as watching somebody in the show being so caught up in the strangeness of a situation that they can no longer keep it in. That being said, giggling cast members and the occasional breaking of the fourth wall do not a great sitcom make; sadly there’s more to dislike about Mrs. Brown’s Boys than there is to like about it.

Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. Max permalink
    July 4, 2012 2:51 am

    Involving the audience and manipulating the conventions of sitcoms was done better way back in the mid- late-1980s on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.

  2. Gary permalink
    July 5, 2012 1:16 am

    It’s funny, at any rate it makes me laugh. The rest of your analysis is pointless PD. And picking up from your rap on why Australian comedies don’t cut it, I’d say the difference is confidence. Brendon O’Carroll almost certainly doesn’t care whether you or anyone else like his show, how different from the slightly embarrassed, self-conscious approach of – for example – Woodley. Sure Mrs Brown is cliched, old fashioned, predictable and scatalogical. But it’s funny.

    • Deets permalink
      October 24, 2012 12:37 am

      Could not agree more Gary.. who gives a shite if it aimed at the ”cheap” seats. If it makes us laugh a little I don’t mind a splinter or two .

  3. Jeanette permalink
    July 5, 2012 12:40 pm

    I think it is very funny and I get a good laugh.

  4. July 7, 2012 5:43 am

    I’d avoided this show until 7Mate rolled out an “encore” screening last night. I found it mildly amusing but some scenes did stretch out the same gag needlessly. I do like the occasional breaking of the ‘fourth wall’ (as per Miranda).

    I’d have classed it as an “Alright” rather than “Bad”. If I never saw another episode I’d not be distressed but if I did happen to see it again I’d probably sit it through.

  5. Shane permalink
    July 10, 2012 11:18 pm

    It is simple the best comedy on TV at the moment. This is “British” comedy at it’s best. None of the PC rubbish we have been subjected to.

    • Car permalink
      July 11, 2012 11:39 am

      Irish comedy at its best !!!!!!!!!!

      • Kate permalink
        July 11, 2012 11:41 pm

        It’s an Irish comedy set in Dublin!

      • Gary permalink
        July 12, 2012 1:01 am

        True, but it’s flimed in the BBC studios in Glasgow, Scoland.

      • marian silvapulle permalink
        July 14, 2012 10:54 am

        you took the words out
        of my mouth.Its Irish comedy bought by the British ,ok marian

      • suzi williams permalink
        November 10, 2012 3:09 pm

        british comedy if it wasnt for the bbc which is british it wouldnt of been made the bbc gave the show and the actors a chance the actors are irish but its made by bbc

  6. Anne permalink
    July 12, 2012 5:53 am

    Absolutely fantastic – best laugh I have had in years !!

  7. Riga permalink
    July 12, 2012 7:18 pm

    I had a sneak preview of this show a few weeks ago and laughed so much that I had a UK relative send the DVDs over. Thank feck I won’t have to watch it on Seven where the 3 or 4 ad breaks will ruin the show. One of the best comedies to come out of Eng … erm, Brit … umm, Irela ….. no, …THE BRITISH ISLES in years. It’s silly, irreverent, politically incorrect, hilarious and I LOVE IT!

    • October 10, 2012 2:35 pm

      Ireland isn’t part of the ‘BRITISH ISLES’

      • Gary Johnston permalink
        October 11, 2012 12:23 am

        Ireland IS part of the British Isles. The Republic of Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom which might be what you’re thinking of (though Northern Ireland is). And Mrs Browns Boys is recorded at the BBC studios in Glasgow, Scotland, which is both a part of the British Isles and the United Kingdom.

  8. July 18, 2012 5:08 am

    The best comedy i’v ever seen. I honestly thought no comedy could outbet ‘seinfield’ and this blows seinfield out the window! I love this show and now i can’t wait too see it again. It sure as hell bets the australian comedy’s (if you can actually call them that) I love all british shows but this one has to be the best. I havn’t laughed so hard in years…best show on television.

  9. julie permalink
    July 26, 2012 6:23 am

    Mrs browns boys is one of the funniest shows iv seen in ages even 23 & 28 yr old daughters love the show we sit every wed night &.watch with tears running down our faces & holding our sides with all the crap thats going on in the world at the moment this show is great we just hope that channel 7 leaves it on & does’nt take it off air because of a few prudes that dont have a scence of humor. A very funny show 10 out 10

  10. August 31, 2012 9:28 am

    to each their own i guess, i quite enjoy mrs browns but i hate shows like IT crowd etc
    it all depends what your into i guess

  11. June Wood permalink
    September 6, 2012 9:24 am

    Well when a great grandmother,88,grandmother,mother,son, daughters and not to mention the grandchildren older ones that is, all cry with laughter and can not stop talking and sharing their best parts after the show .Well it gets my vote, lighten up the best tv ever thank you. About time there was something worth watching.

  12. Ben permalink
    September 16, 2012 11:25 am

    This show is rubbish and aimed at cheap red necks, it has poorly written scripts and humor that wasn’t funny back when Benny Hill did this crap. Being unPC means nothing if all the jokes are predictable and cheap… One of the worst sows on TV!

    • September 22, 2012 9:09 pm

      Thank you, totally agree its like going back into a time warp watching this drivel. Have you seen when the whistle blows from extras, this is some really cheap ironic imitation

  13. Izto permalink
    September 23, 2012 1:44 pm

    Well, well, well what a lot of sensitive souls we have here. It would seem that some tastes are so exclusive that they may be better off at some Wagnerian Shakespearian performance, rather than an open in your face lighthearted kind of zany comedy.

    Having missed the so called “higher education” where one learns primarily how important one is, thus licensing one to declare what is right (funny) or not to others I must languish in the work ordained world and from this vantage point I see a show much like a work place situation where every one in the tea room is part of a story. Here the story teller involves the whole theater, patrons, camera operators, actors with ad-libbed situations even (there must be a name for it) the broader world, like discussing that it’s the last episode and there is no song. Scripted of course but it seems other wise.

    Maybe I have missed some thing but I think it’s very clever. Where, maybe the language may be a bit edgy for some (?) it never the less deals with the real world. Identifying and exposing mockingly if you will, family issues that so many would rather pass over. Many of this world are a bit ‘ordinary’ and often get the wrong end of the stick but so what, that is life. Why should the rest of us defer to the sensitive ones?

    However,- The underlying sentiment that comes through and even as a point at the end is the essence of family. Almost a lost noun these days but I come from an era where family was it. This,- is seldom seen in todays viewings.

    On this point I vote yes for Mrs. Browns Boys.

  14. Shaun permalink
    September 24, 2012 9:55 am

    This is one of the worst modern comedies I have ever seen. Humour is relative I suppose, but this is certainly no shining beacon of comedic genius. The sitcom has basically just gone back into the dark ages of sitcomedy. I can’t believe any one would describe Mrs. Brown’s Boys as ‘edgy’, and I can’t believe any one could possibly prefer this to something like Wilfred, which is far edgier, or Woodley, which is not only heart-warmingly funny, but also often dramatically sweet. What ever happened to the modern British sitcom ingenuity that existed in works like Black Books, I’m Alan Partridge, The Office, Bottom, and Father Ted? Maybe it’s just because I’m a pretty hardcore sitcom enthusiast, so I’m familiar with all the jokes, but I just can’t understand the appeal, or maybe something’s just gone over my head.

  15. wendy permalink
    October 16, 2012 9:28 pm

    I hate it! Its so schoolyard humour, I’v tried so hard to like it as most people I know love it, but I just dont get it! A man dressed up as a woman who still looks like a man and sounds like a man, er? I like comedy I can relate to in life and I dont know any family who acts like that, its dumb and silly and well childish really!

  16. Deets permalink
    October 24, 2012 12:42 am

    Who cares if its been done before ”what hasn’t” it beats reality tv shows or garden make overs. Old fashioned maybe a bit low brow probably but its 30 minutes of fun.

  17. Ian permalink
    December 13, 2012 11:58 am

    Definitely the funniest show I’ve seen in a long time

  18. Mark permalink
    January 9, 2013 11:59 am

    Not being one who normally watches free to air or digital TV I knew nothing of Mrs Browns Boys until my 75 yr old mum gave me the DVD for series 1 as a birthday present in September, saying it has a fair bit of F’s in it but was funny! I took my mothers apraisal as something to be ignored and promptly let the DVD sit until today when on holidays I was scratching for something to watch and chill out.

    I unwrapped the plastic put in the DVD and watched the entire series 1 in one hit. I have not laughed so much since I cant remember. Simple what you see is what you get and filled with not so subtle, you just know whats coming bits, that are carried off great. I laughed so much that when she got home i got my wife to put it on whilst I went out to do some bits and pieces and she was laughing load before i got out the front door. She too ended up watching the entire series with the same reaction.

    We are going out to buy the series 2 DVD tomorrow and are already saying we can’t wait for the live show to come to Oz.

  19. Heather Spring permalink
    February 12, 2013 5:29 pm

    Personal over hear in northern Ireland which someone pointed out is part of the UK where as the south of Ireland is not but contrary to belief there is families like this in the south of Ireland

  20. Judy permalink
    April 5, 2013 4:16 am

    Funniest show ever. I love it can’t wait for more. Bought the DVDs and laugh so hard even though I’ve seen it before. The whole family (adults) love it. Brendan O’Carroll is hilarious. Ok he looks like the man he is but that’s part of the humour. being un-PC like – what a refreshing change!! It’s not meant to be serious, all you lot who moan about it. anyway, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Let those who appreciate enjoy it without others being pompous about it.

    • deets permalink
      April 8, 2013 9:27 am

      I could not agree more its just a laugh ,I don’t know why people make such a big deal over the show. those who think its below them can alway turn off and maybe catch up on war and peace I hear thats a page turner.

      • Judy permalink
        April 23, 2013 12:56 am

        Some people sound so superior when they call Mrs Brown fans “rednecks” “dark ages” etc. So, you think intelligent highly educated people don’t enjoy the humour? How patronising. So much sadness in the world, why not laugh when you can? Brendan is brilliant. We may see some of the gags coming (as in the taser scene) …. so what? This is what we laugh at! Am going to the live show in Melbourne next year and I can hardly wait!

      • Judy permalink
        April 23, 2013 1:02 am

        We go about the house spouting Mrs Brown’s lines. “That’s nice”. “Cathy Brown” – with hand gestures – (when Cathy was trying to help the family air their views as a family), “Mrs Brown feckin’ bored now” (replaced with our names ) etc. How many shows spill over into real life like this? What a joy this series gives with clever comedic timing. Long may the series continue.

  21. jackie somers permalink
    April 19, 2013 4:25 am

    the best show in years, i laugh till i cry what a hilarious family fun time. my worries just disappear my aussie since of humor approves, keep the laughs coming love love love the show

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