TV Review: Badults, BBC3


There is a lot riding on Pappy's new BBC3 sitcom Badults. The much-loved sketch combo has already had two tries at transferring their lunatic stage sensibility, doing a pair of C4 Comedy Lab pilots, so is Badults third time lucky? It certainly comes when their confidence is riding high. Last year's Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated Fringe show, Last Show Ever, was their best live show to date. Matthew Crosby, Ben Clark and Tom Parry have always been deliriously funny sketch comedians but Last Show Ever showed that they could wed narrative to laughs too, which boded well for Badults.

And sure enough, the first episode retains the madcap spirit of the live show. The sit in this com is pretty basic. Matthew, Ben and Tom play three flatmates who refuse to grow up and can't help getting into comic scrapes. Broadsheet commentators might suggest this the series has a serious subtext, the current infantilisation of society or something, but we've seen this all before, from The Young Ones to Spaced. A tatty flat is a tatty flat. Different era, same pizza delivery boxes piled up (though a nice pizza gag to go with them here).

It's the unquenchable likability of Pappy's that makes Badults so funny. The basic plot could have been written on an Edfringe ticket. In the first episode they somehow end up with way too much money and have to avoid spending it. No problem. Yeah right. I'm sure I've seen this plot before. Dostoyevsky? Or was it Crackerjack? There's definitely something very Peter Glaze – ask your granddad – about Matthew.

The writing is great too. On the one hand they have simply crammed in as many gags as it is humanly possibly to cram into a half hour sitcom. I won't spoil the fun and the surprise by giving them away. There are sight gags, verbal gags and a surreal talking bank note which is either a homage or a rip-off of The Young Ones. I haven't decided yet. Even when the jokes are cheesy they somehow work. As Matthew Crosby recently said in an interview: "A groan followed by a laugh is our favourite sound in the world."

Yet as well as the wanton giggle riot they have structured this as well as an episode of Seinfeld or Father Ted. In the final five minutes all the loose ends are tied up neatly. I wondered why tokenish woman Rachel (Emer Kenny) appeared early on, which momentarily slightly upended the trio's dynamic, but it eventually makes sense.

Badults manages to pull off a very clever trick. It is entirely unoriginal and entirely original at the same time. There is absolutely nothing new about men unable or unwilling to be mature. Badults is a testament to the fact that skilful writing, great performances and a few strategically inserted fromage-flavoured puns can makes a tried and tested format feel new all over again. Badults is really rather good. 

Badults is on BBC3 on Tuesdays at 10pm. 

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