'Grandma's House' Series 2, Episode 6: 'The Day Simon And His Family Opened The Door To Acceptance' // Words: Saam Das
SYNOPSIS: "Sitcom. It's Tanya and Clive's wedding day again, but Simon has other concerns as he gets a lesson in tough love." (bbc.co.uk)
Is it really all over? Simon Amstell, co-writer, co-creator and centrepiece of 'Grandma's House', has suggested that the finale of this second series could well be the last of the dysfunctional yet excellent sitcom. I honestly can hear Linda Bassett (who plays the titular Grandma) saying "ooh, what a shame". Especially considering the utterly bleak ending.
The last episode of the first series saw Tanya (Rebecca Front) and Clive (James Smith) getting ready for marriage. They didn't quite make it that time but come the start of 'The Day Simon And His Family Opened The Door To Acceptance' and the deed is already done. Cue a terrible rendition of 'Sex On Fire' from Clive - bad singing being a favourite trope of 'Grandma's House'.
For Simon (Amstell), things hadn't exactly been going well recently. A trend that continues in this episode, as his romantic liaison Ben Theodore (Iwan Rheon) turns up with bad news. Then good news. Which rapidly turns to bad news. For Simon, at least.
Theodore brings his own companion, Zazzy (Jessie Cave), whose irritable pretension is probably the low note of the series, too much of a caricature of a hipster. She did however inspire an incisive calling out from Grandma Lily, who also finally found the time and privacy to grieve for her departed husband. While standing by a door. (To acceptance?)
It's ironic that with Grandma beginning her grieving process that so much else is unresolved. Clive's financial and drinking situation and the deepening marital rift between Liz (Samantha Spiro) and her absentee husband being of particular interest. There is room to for Liz's son Adam (Jamal Hadjkura) to grow both literally and figuratively, his cameo performances being continued highlights of this series.
The acting has been superb throughout the series, with Samantha Spiro's performance in the fourth episode of the series and Lily's anecdote about her husband looking for Liz in this episode being undoubted high points. Even Simon Amstell has proved impressively competent.
The writing has been slightly more hit-and-miss, with an over-reliance on outdated and/or obscure pop culture references (this episode's use of Samantha Mumba being arguably the most incongruous) and the significant dip of 'The Day Simon Attempted To Express Actual Feelings Just Like A Person'. Nonetheless, 'Grandma's House' has been very accomplished, and quite possibly realised its potential as "the best thing on British television" as I once suggested.
I suppose it might be a spoiler to say that the series ends with Simon consuming copious amounts of "cheesy beans potato" while watching re-runs of his glory days on 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks'. To end in such a sad manner would be a wider reflection of the sadness of the viewer now that the series may never return. Perhaps this is all the bittersweet tragicomedy that Amstell and co-writer Dan Swimer have to give. Rather sadistically, we hope for more in the future.
Watch 'The Day Simon And His Family Opened The Door To Acceptance' on BBC iPlayer until 00:39, 4 Jun 2012. Read the rest of our Grandma's House episode reviews here.