With her latest series, commanding one of the largest viewing audiences over the Christmas telly season, polarising the chattering classes into the lovers or haters, it’s no suprise the media are finding her useful fodder at the moment. Do you like Miranda? The TV series? Miranda Hart the person/personality?
Lucy Mangan wrote a post on The Guardian last week, defending über successful Miranda Hart following against a bilious review in The Times by Andrew Billen railing against her buffoonery (she’s a comedian, so isn’t that to be expected?) and comments made on Twitter by Linda S Grant accusing Miranda of misogyny and self loathing, they combined to inflame a bit of an all round rant in the twitter-sphere.
Similarly, even though it’s favourable in tone, Mangan’s post has attracted several hundred comments on the focus of the piece, Miranda, 639 at last count. I read some of them and can sum them up as; miserable, spiteful, mocking and humourless. It was like reading responses to a joke which were made before the punch line had been delivered. What a wretched bunch of anonymous people these commenters are. As I went for my run today, I wondered what Miranda Hart would think if she were to read them, and then I realised that it’s part of her superbly manipulative comedic talent to elicit responses both good and bad from such broad a range of people. It’s not as if she’s an offensive vagabond and scoundrel à la Frankie Boyle, or worse, Jim Davidson, however both the punch line and last laugh belong to her since these commenters are the very people she sends up in her series. The happier, funnier and more successful she is, the more riled they become.
And back to mysogyny, self-loathing and ‘F’ words. Far from being misogynist or languishing in a pit of self-loathing, Miranda is on paper quite the feminist – her comedy character, who is self-deprecating and childishly conspiratorial with her audience, is in her mid to late 30s, and runs her own business – in real life she is much the same. The Miranda comedy show isn’t edgy like The Inbetweeners or the Mighty Boosh, or cloying like My Family or Outnumbered; it’s bloody funny slapstick that will have you laughing out loud to within minutes of watching. It’s also family friendly and homegrown, which surely is the point of a successful BBC comedy show.
Miranda picks on every single feminine insecurity and fear and plays it large on screen, so we can all have a good laugh at her, with her and at ourselves. Which is why I think she’s quite a good role model compared to other personalities in the entertainment world. While TOWIE and Made in Chelsea make great tabloid fodder, Miranda is a huge phenomenon in the real world and especially among teenage girls; my daughter said that most of her friends got the Miranda book as a Christmas present, as did she. They all watch her show with slavish adoration too.
So what’s her great appeal? Catherine Tate and Little Britain have kept the nation laughing with characters like Lauren and Vicki Pollard, Miranda has simply lampooned herself and to great effect. If she were to resort to false eyelashes, fake tan and hair extensions like her reality TV counterparts, rather than taking herself too seriously you can see the scene playing out as side splittingly hilarious. It appears there’s a lot to be gained from outing these hang ups, phobias and taboos and turning them into great comedy moments. Singledom, height, quirky habits, clumsiness, unrequited love and lack of sophistication are all great fodder.
So let’s go back to the ‘F’ word; you can always trust Miranda to pervert and distort the norm for a cheap laugh, she takes it on and owns it in an entirely different new way. So don’t expect to hear the words ‘feminism’ or ‘fuck’ thrown around during the show, it’s much more likely to be a loud, watery comedic fart. And last night’s episode did not disappoint.
In this clip below, Miranda has an emergency massage from an osteopath while wrapped in a makeshift nappy, and while having her back realigned by a wig-wearing Tim Piggott-Smith, she commits a terrible faux pas. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t worried they might do that exact same thing during a massage, physio session or yoga class. While we may worry, Miranda just lets rip and the candle gets it.
Feel free to watch and share the video, it will appeal to the peurile adolescent streak which
may be lost to those miserable haters but is in all of us.