TV: This Way Up, C4

TV: This Way Up, C4

Everything is a Something Fleabag these days. The lazy journalists who call Roisin Conaty's GameFace a Working Class Fleabag will probably call this an Irish Fleabag as it features two Irish sisters laughing and crying and trying to get through the modern world. That would be totally wrong. The only thing This Way Up, starring Aisling Bea and Sharon Horgan, has in common with Fleabag – apart from exceptional female stars – is that it is also an utterly unique piece of television.

Bea, who also wrote this, plays Aine, who we first see coming out of rehab following a nervous breakdown. She is supported by her more stable older sister Shona (Sharon Horgan) who follows Aine round on the find-my-phone app just to check she doesn't go walkabout in the night.

On the surface Aine is happy go lucky. She teaches English to foreign students and with her jokes and japes and kindness and quirky clothes seems to be the perfect teacher (this scene was quite difficult for me to watch as I've always wanted to write a politically correct non-racist version of the dodgy old funny-accent ITV sitcom Mind Your Language and Bea has done that here is a subplot).

But things are not what they seem. She shoplifts, she suffers from anxiety and she can go from happy to sobbing on the bathroom floor in the blink of an eye. It's a phenomenal performance by Bea, who is best known for cheery comedy but could easily pick up acting awards for her showstopping turn here.

The scene-setting first episode suggests we are in for an emotional bumpy ride, with relationship troubles and mental health issues to the fore for Aine. And things don't exactly look like being a walk in the park for Shona either. I guess this fits in with the current vogue for "sadcoms" – see also Back To Life and Mum – that are not split-your-sides funny, but as I said at the outset, don't compare This Way Up to anything else, it is a thing of fragile beauty out there on its own.

 This Way Up starts on Channel 4 on August 8th at 10pm and the whole series comes out that night online on All4. It also airs on @hulu on August 21st. 

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