“GO ON, EAT A SHIT TOASTIE!”
When it was originally transmitted in 2010 on BBC2, the extremely dark and terrifically twisted sitcom pilot Lizzie and Sarah went out at 11:45 on a Saturday night, almost as if the network wanted to leave it on the doorstep quietly in the middle of the night.
Once you’ve watched it, it’s understandable why BBC2 controllers might have felt this way and why a full series was never produced. Lizzie and Sarah is excruciatingly inappropriate, but my god is it one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life.
There is a particular type of bleaker than bleak comedic genius that runs through the work of co-creator Julia Davis (Nighty Night, Human Remains), a nightmarish and jaundiced appraisal of human relationships that is perhaps the darkest vision of ANYBODY working in comedy today. In collaboration with the equally brilliant Jessica Hynes (co-creator of Spaced) the pitch black brutality at the heart of Davis’s work has been egged on to an even more perverse place for their pathetic take on Thelma and Louise. They make a fantastic onscreen team and I can only imagine how much fun the writing sessions were.
Here’s how the Beeb described Lizzie and Sarah at the time:
Lizzie and Sarah are two fiftysomething suburban housewives, perpetually mistreated and ignored by unloving, selfish husbands. The highlight of their otherwise dull lives is their role in an amateur dramatic society, The Borking Players. In the aftermath of a tragic accident which causes the death of a popular local teenager, emotions run high, and following a dismal birthday lunch for Sarah, the two friends embark on a spur-of-the-moment shopping trip. As the day unfolds, they find a way to wreak their revenge
Although there is nothing untrue in the above synopsis, don’t think for a second that you know what this piece is about…
Lizzie and Sarah stretches the definition of what comedy can be further than anything since the debut of the League of Gentlemen or Davis’s career-defining 2004 role as monstrously selfish beautician Jill Tyrell in her Nighty Night series.
Since its original ignominious transmission, Lizzie and Sarah has steadily picked up a legion of fans via torrent trackers and friends foisting it upon unsuspecting friends, who are either appalled by what they see or become fans themselves. It’s rather impossible to feel lukewarm about Lizzie and Sarah. You’re either going to love it the way you first loved John Waters early films or else it’ll just depress the shit out of you and make you want to cry.
You have been warned.
Thank you, Matthew Quezada!