When a writer has already written a successful show, it is inevitable that comparisons will be drawn when any new production is made. I can certainly understand why any previous work may be used as a reference point, but for me, using this earlier work as a reference point by which new work will be judged is largely reductive.
As such reviews of Mum, Stefan Golaszewski’s latest effort, has seen critics draw consistent comparisons to his previous work, the sublime Him and Her. As a result, Mum’s more dramatic nature has invited critical comments which regard it as less funny than the comedic Him and Her.
Personally, I find it bizarre that purely because the same writer is involved, the programme should be deemed as suitable to be judged by the same metric. It seems rather strange that it is necessary to highlight that Mum, as a separate piece of media, is rather obviously going to be different from Him and Her.
Starring Lesley Manville as the titular mother, the series focuses on a family dealing with the bereavement of the patriarch. Cathys’s son, whilst well meaning, is rather self-involved as we witness him using the funeral as an opportunity to introduce his new girlfriend, Kelly, who due to laundry issues arrives for the funeral in a bright red dress.
Amidst the backdrop of loss, we see a tentative relationship beginning to form between Cathy and Michael as he attempts to broach the divide between being a friends of Cathy’s deceased husband, and now attempting to fulfil a supportive role for her.
Mum has, thus far, impressed me in its intelligent observational approach. The characters, whilst hyperbolic at times, feel real and believable. Cathy, rather than being a reticent and retiring character as may be first assumed, is in reality witty and intelligent. It is rather refreshing to see a matriarch that, rather than living purely for their children or fulfilling the rather tired battleaxe stereotype, is fully an individual with her own needs and interests.
The cast are all wonderful, with special mention going to Lisa McGrillis as Kelly, whose stereotypically ditzy persona belies a rather difficult background. Kelly is entirely likeable, whilst often being incredibly blunt in her observations and her interactions with Cathy reveal much about both characters. This ability to expose characters’ fears and desires is a real strengths of Golaszewski’s writing. His writing is deceivingly simple, but is in reality, incredibly crafted, telling us all we need to know about a character with very little exposition.