We binged the first two seasons of this half-hour show, Mum, last night on Amazon and were both enthralled and repulsed. Which is a hard thing to pull off and keep you sucked in.
Every scene happens in or in front of a row house in England. The title character, Cathy, has lost her husband. The first episode is the day of his funeral. Then we jump month by month with each episode.
The repulsed part is the over-the-top characters surrounding her. Their narcissism and lack of awareness is so thorough it batters you. They say the worst things. They are thoughtless. Why does she put up with it?
But at the same time, there’s a deeper level to it. Why are they like this? We get snippets. That doesn’t excuse their atrocious behavior, but it makes it more understandable.
At the same time we see little gestures and moments that give great insight and understanding. There are emotional, subtle moments, that take your breath away. The acting is superb. Hard to believe that Michael, her friend, was Darlene’s husband in Ozark.
We might think Cathy is a saint to put up with all she does and never lose her temper. But is she? Why is she like she is? Is it a good thing? Why does everyone gravitate around her house? Why is she the nexus of all of this?
As part of the trope, there is the best friend of her husband, Michael, who has always carried a torch for her. It’s obvious he loves her, but how long can we keep this going without one or the other bringing it out in the open? For two seasons this drags on, sometimes with humor, sometimes sadly.
What did we love about this series, which we will finish today? It’s about people. Both the good and the ugly and the sad and the pathetic. That old saying that everyone is carrying their burdens and not to judge? Well, we can judge, but we can also try to understand and the writing is excellent to help us do that.
We all know people like these characters. In fact, I’d prefer the over-the-top rather than the sly ones, the passive-aggressive, the malignant narcissists who put on a friendly face while they rip your soul out for their own amusement. That’s the charm. They might be awful, but they’re obvious awful. There is no lying and deception. What you see is what you get. That’s preferable over the other reality.