Such Brave Girls | Review of Kat Sadler's new BBC Three comedy © BBC/Various Artists Limited
review star review star review star review star review blank star

Such Brave Girls

Review of Kat Sadler's new BBC Three comedy

Such Brave Girls falls squarely into the contemporary fashion for TV comedies that draw on unhappiness and trauma, with no shortage of either.  

Yet Kat Sadler’s bold semi-autobiographical series also has elements of pure sitcom. There’s an accident in with hair dye in episode one, for instance, that wouldn’t be out of place in Only Fools And Horses. Yet for all its outlandish humour, the moment is rooted in the earthy, nuanced realism of the dysfunctional characters at the show’s core.  Not that those on the periphery are any more well-balanced…

Sadler is Josie, a ‘vortex of misery’ plagued by anxiety and depression. But refreshingly this is not a show to wallow in her suffering. Neither her sister Billie (played by Sadler’s real-life sibling Lizzie Davidson) nor her mum, Deb, have any sympathy for mental health issues that have clearly exhausted their sympathy. 

There’s also a running theme that Josie uses her troubles in place of a personality. She expresses the view that anyone who’s happy is just ‘basic… live, laugh, love’. For without damage, what does anyone have to talk about? 

These two approaches to depression – to Josie a badge that makes her feel special and to everyone else a tedious character trait they don’t want to indulge – give the comedy a bold and unique flavour, addressing with exaggerated frankness the sort of understandable responses to mental ill-health that empathy would force most people to suppress. Not comedy characters with an intimate family relationship, mind.

Meanwhile, sister Billie utterly fails to acknowledge the emotional timebomb she’s sitting on, unhealthily obsessed with an appalling bloke who couldn’t care less about her.  Cue endless texts oozing desperation and stupidly ill-advised attempts to snare him, which ramp up to a new level in episode two.

A lack of self-esteem runs in the family. The girls’ highly strung mum Deb – as played by Louise Brealey – is fostering a relationship with the boring yet unsettling Dev for no other reason that he has a massive house, and it’s clear she and her daughters are in dire financial straits since the girls’ dad walked on them. 

The family’s brutally honest dynamics are insane, somewhere between the Nuthall’s in Alma’s Not Normal to the Goodmans in Friday Night Dinner – which may be apt given Simon Bird is the director of Such Brave Girls.

But there’s no danger of this feeling like a mainstream sitcom, no matter how lightly the mental health issues are treated. Not only is it realistically sweary, but Sadler draws plenty of funny – often urgh-inducing – moments from the uncompromisingly graphic episodes in the girls’ messy lives. 

It’s a comedy that asserts her unique comic sensibilities on what could be difficult territory. However,  her honesty combined with her admirable reluctance to take serious issues seriously makes for an impressively different series.

• Such Brave Girls is available to watch now on iPlayer and episodes one and two air on BBC Three from 10pm tonight.

Review date: 22 Nov 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.