Perhaps you’re unaware of Channel 4’s new, six part, comedy series about a family living in the shadow of Wolverhampton. Raised by Wolves, written by sisters Caitlin and Caroline Moran, centres on a single parent family run by the robust, witty and ever cynical Della Garry (played by Doctor Who alum Rebekah Staton). Having had a pilot back in 2013, which I never saw, I have become a huge fan of the on-screen antics that have been conjured up by the Morans. Not only do I find the show incredibly funny, I also feel like it appeals to an experience of the world that I’ve traversed in and continue to experience on a regular basis – even though I’m in the minority of my three siblings, being the only daughter.
Sitcoms that have previously aired with a female perspective, thanks to a mostly women being charge of the writing and acting, have for me been very far from my experience of what it is to be someone who is female and living and growing-up in the UK. Absolutely Fabulous was before my time to really get into, and the repeats that I have seen seem far too sanitized. Then from over the pond, you have the far more recent The Mindy Project, which does get awkward, but still has an air of glamour about it that is just unrealistic. Oh, and then the newer Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which has a protagonist from a background that is incredibly far removed from what most western women will ever experience. So while funny in places, I couldn’t identify with most of the goings on in Ab Fab, The Mindy Project or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
But three episodes into Raised by Wolves (the fourth was on last night while I was recording Nerds Assemble) and I am seeing more than just snippets of real life, but entire experiences that feel authentic and relateable and so really, really funny.
Before you ask…
No, no one in my family is exactly like Della… other than myself a bit, even though I don’t have any children of my own. Della’s affirmative, no bullshit attitude towards life is one that I have been cultivating for myself for a very long time. Della is, other than for the smoking and being a single mum, the kind of mum I wouldn’t mind being. She’s self-reliant, understands her kids pretty well and her kids respect her to a reasonable degree – it’s the exact opposite of most on-screen, fictional, relationships between kids and their mums. In some ways, Della is, for me, like an amalgamation of all the coolest aspects of the women I’ve known in my life so far.
“She’s got form, she punched Maeve Binchy in Waterstones.”
But what’s even weirder is that I’ve taken part in conversations ridiculously similar to the ones between Aretha (Alexa Davies), Germaine (Helen Monks) and Yoko (Molly Risker). Admittedly not at quite their young age, they’re talking about this stuff before they’re in sixth form/further ed college, but those conversations about periods, horses and boys are ones that I can relate back to experiences I’ve had in real life.
Despite the realism, things are taken to their extremes, but of course it’s all a bit OTT this is comedy after all, not a drama. The birthday present buying in episode two would never get quite that desperate, or a game of Shit Head so protracted, but these ridiculous scenarios bar a closer resemblance to real life than you’ll find in most sitcoms, whether they’re British or American.
But what I love the most is that it’s so un-sanitized and unfiltered: it’s like someone’s accidentally let a real female perspective onto the television and I hope the gatekeepers don’t find out, because it’s all so damn glorious!