BBC iPlayer: Grandma's House (2010) Episode Five

on Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Words: Paul Dean

'Grandma's House' Episode Five: 'The Day Simon Felt the Family Was Ready to Be Healed'

SYNOPSIS: "Simon has been on a life-changing course and has decided it's his job to heal the family. He starts by giving his Granddad an exercise ball. Tanya has had a realisation that maybe Clive isn't the man for her, and when the family discover that Simon has organised a surprise for them, they are fearful what Grandma might do to him."

I think Simon Amstell's fictional alter-ego is finally coming apart at the seams. I'm only surprised that it hasn't happened sooner.

If I had a family like his (who are also mostly fictional, or at least I hope) I think my sanity would have melted away long ago. I know the stereotype of a Jewish mother is that of one who forever reminds her children of the burden they were on her, of the sacrifices she made, but Mrs Amstell (the brilliant Rebecca Front) is one of those people who simply never knows where to draw the line. She wants to remind her son of the damage he did to her nipples, or the stretch marks he carved across her torso. "You destroyed my erogenous zones", is something no-one ever wants to hear a parent declare.

This week, in an attempt to unite the three generations his petty and forever-bickering family, Amstell attended a forum that emphasised forgiveness and reconciliation. Sat later in his grandmother's living room, attempting some sort of conflict resolution while surrounded by ten kinds of stress and self-interest, he insists his newfound placidity didn't come from any kind of cult conversion. "Cults separate families, this is about families together and making them talk", he tells his histronic grandmother, his materialistic mother and his vain, neurotic aunt (while his cancer-suffering grandfather just won't stop bouncing on his new excercise ball). "Oh, that's worse!" An all too truthful retort, because every such gathering is a sniping session which we can see is gradually eroding poor Simon's fragile wits.

Though his oft-overlooked and far calmer grandfather may be the family member he mostly closely relates to (or at best, argues with the least), they may also be more distant from each other than I first thought. How does Amstell's grandfather try to cheer him up, to make his life better? He buys him books about how to have great oral and anal sex.

It's all going terribly, tragicomically wrong at 'Grandma's House'. I can't help but think we're headed towards some sort of climactic implosion next week. I feel terribly sorry for fictional Simon, but that doesn't stop me from smiling.

[WATCH] until 10:29pm, Monday 20 September 2010.

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