Feel Good, Channel 4
- Brian Donaldson
- 20 March 2020
Nuanced and funny portrayal of addiction, love and toxicity
Watching stand-ups performing in a packed comedy club may well seem like an image from a more innocent, less virusy time. But thankfully there's a universality to this six-part comedy drama from UK-based Canadian stand-up Mae Martin and screenwriter Joe Hampson that transcends this awful moment in history. Based on events from Martin's actual life, it tells the tale of a rising-star comedian falling in love with George (Charlotte Ritchie) who had previously never pursued a same-sex relationship.
All seems to be going swimmingly for this fledgling couple until a dark secret is revealed during a Skype chat with Mae's Canada-residing parents (Lisa Kudrow in fine disapproving-mother vein as Linda, and Adrian Lukis as jovial dad Malcolm who exits the scene when any conversation gets too serious). Mae might have wished to keep her coke-addict past firmly in the background, but now her life is out in the open she attempts to deal with her problems, messing up at every turn.
Many of the best scenes in Feel Good emanate from her time at Narcotics Anonymous as she rubs up against the group's egg-obsessed leader David (Ramon Tikaram) and bonds with her sponsor Maggie (Sophie Thompson) who tries to keep her own particular addiction under control. Plus there's a pleasing turn from Phil Burgers aka Doctor Brown as George's flatmate who teeters permanently on the divide between subtly off-kilter and totally unhinged. There's also a creepy performance from Barry Ward as a Noughties comedy icon back for another shot at glory, but losing it through some Louis CK-esque indecency.
In their roles as George and Mae, Ritchie and Martin portray the excited fragility of early relationships and beautifully render the sadness when love breaks down. The finale leaves everything nice and open for a second batch, while bringing a partial and satisfactory curtain down on this nuanced and funny portrayal of millennial women in love.
Episodes watched: 6 of 6
Feel Good airs on Channel 4, Wednesdays, 10pm; all episodes available on All 4.