TV: Miranda

The zany Britcom Miranda (2009–2015) is a show an earlier version of me would have snobbishly derided. To be honest, its ultra-conventional structure and egregious sentimentality still occasionally gave me pause. But the damn thing got me laughing, thanks to the talent and chemistry of its cast, especially creator and star Miranda Hart, who skillfully choreographs the hijinks.

The show follows the absurd adventures of Miranda (Hart), an extraordinarily awkward, clumsy joke shop owner. To say the least, Miranda is a square peg in a round hole, despite the toxic efforts of her overbearing, status-obsessed mother Penny (Patricia Hodge) to get her to lose weight and find a man. And maybe she wants that a little bit herself, especially if it’s her old college chum Gary (Lucifer’s Tom Ellis), the chef at a nearby restaurant whom she can never bring herself to admit she adores. But mostly Miranda is content to make her own fun, usually with her best friend and colleague Stevie (Sarah Hadland) by her side, and once she grows to embrace herself, she even manages to stumble her way into happiness.

Miranda is off-puttingly old-fashioned, fully committed to the broad, cheery silliness of its farcical scenario. It’s certainly not breaking any new comic ground. But the comedy is deftly executed, and Hart is delightful, with an infectious, cheeky enthusiasm for the cringeworthy awkwardness of her honest, upbeat self-deprecation. The show’s bag of tricks isn’t particularly deep, over-relying on callbacks and catch phrases, but they’re also nicely clocked, as is the entire cast’s mastery of physical comedy—especially Hart and Hadland, whose performances practically warrant hazard pay, but also Ellis, Hodge, and the brilliant Sally Phillips. In the end, I found the show charmingly unpretentious and winning.

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