Words: Paul Dean
'Grandma's House' Episode Six: 'The Day Simon Finally Found the Strength to Accept that His Mother Was Getting Married'
SYNOPSIS: "When Grandpa is taken ill, it's unsure whether Tanya and Clive will be able to get married today. Grandma takes on the responsibility of trying to resolve the situation, but is she right to advise Tanya to get married? Meanwhile, Liz has a favour to ask of Simon which might help Adam sort out his schooling problems." (bbc.co.uk)
"I can't help but think we're headed towards some sort of climactic implosion next week". I don't mean to say that I told you so but, well, I was right.
Then again, I think we were all expecting Grandma's House to build towards some sort of tiny tragedy or awkward resolution. These characters are too set in their ways to ever change for each other, or to find some way to meet in the middle, so the change that we saw in this week's episode was far more the result of self interest than from seeing anyone else's point of view. I won't spoil the conclusion by telling you what happened, but drama triumphed over comedy and this time the humour was somewhat blunted by the sobriety of the atmosphere.
That's not to say I feel either unsatisfied or unamused. There were still the wonderful asides and the coy comebacks, but this conclusion served as a reminder of all that is really quite unpleasant and sinister about Simon Amstell's fictional family. Apart from his grandfather, they are all largely defined by what they want for themselves, seeing the other family members as means to an end when it suits them. Amstell's grandmother is more concerned about her own inconvenience than her daughter's happiness, while his aunt wants to use his success to raise the profile of her son's school. His mother seems to be marrying for nothing but money and even Simon himself seems to be growing ever more self-interested. In what is perhaps the series' most sinister twist, Simon's teenage cousin is suspended for dragging his "girlfriend" out of a classroom by the legs in order to have his way with her.
There is nothing particularly nice about a visit to Grandma's House. That doesn't stop it from being funny, but it's a harsh program at times. This season closer features the most conflict and, for me at least, an unpleasant realisation that most of these characters will never change, or make an effort to either express compassion or to reach out beyond themselves.
Well, like I said, it's still funny.
WATCH until 10:29pm, Monday 20 Sep 2010. Feel free to add your thoughts on the series in the comments below.