Google is reportedly offering employees gourmet dining experiences on its campus. Apple, meanwhile, has hired Stevie Wonder for his workforce. If the BBC is considering introducing a new employee benefit to energize its staff, I would like to suggest a free couple consultation. After Stefan Golaszewski’s acclaimed misery Marriage last month, the lightest backing piece arrives, Glueda sitcom about the claustrophobia of living together.
Dylan Moran as Dan, a recently fired jingle writer struggling to get his life back on track. Morgana Robinson is her longtime partner, Carla, a kind of new age therapist, pushed to take care of this man, who is ten years her senior. “And this?” she asks him. “Just me, in cold blood, and you fart like an old fart?” Moran is on safe ground, doing things Moran (he is the creator of the show after all). He combines world-weary cynicism with shadowy energy, not unlike the performance he perfected in Black books. Robinson continues his conquest of the small screen, to follow Newark, Newarkwith a role that doesn’t particularly extend her beyond her obvious comic talents.
The stickiness of the title is a reference both to how relationships create a sense of entrapment (“Without me, you’d be in jail” says Dan; “I’m in jail!” Replies Carla) and a supportive addiction. In this sense, it’s a classic bittersweet portrait. The bitterness comes from the crumbs of everyday frustration (“You hid the good chocolate chip cookies!” Dan gets furious, about the cookies he clearly ate). The sweetness comes mainly from Carla’s blind support for her partner. “Why didn’t you tell me right away?” she asks when he finally confesses that he was fired. “Lying is more manly,” she replies meekly.
I can’t imagine there have been many people who felt the proven 20-minute sitcom format needed further truncation, but after Cheaters earlier this year, which included a 10-minute episode series, the BBC returns, with Glued, at this new diminutive length. Only running for five of these micro-episodes, Glued it could be seen as a one-hour movie about a woman asking her partner to buy her a cat. These easily digestible pieces can fit even the most demanding schedules (lunch break at a company that is overworking you, for example, or intermission at football) but the brevity makes for character development, and all supporting appearances except the more fleeting, impossible.
Glued it is OK. She has a lot of fascinating moments and some laugh-worthy (if not giggle) jokes. And if we found ourselves in a period of extravagant British comedy, perhaps it could be forgiven for its lightness, almost insipid, harmless. But so much of the comedy right now is concerned with the concerns of a bourgeois milieu, that this kindness starts to feel like laziness. What the exhibition presents as “truth” have become, by cultural insistence, “truisms”. Yes, men promise to fix things and then don’t deliver. Of course, there is nothing more irritating than your partner’s morning wake up call. Of course, your in-laws have a perfect lifestyle. We all live with the same frustrations; the mistake is to confuse them by observing them, for the millionth time, with depth.
“You’re so old,” Carla whispers lovingly to Dan in bed. “I bet you have a blue plaque over your wang.” That kind of wild affection is as close as possible Glued arrives at originality. But overall, it’s just another depiction of a middle-aged heterosexual couple experiencing the stinging anxieties of modern life. At best, it could take the time it takes to boil the kettle or brown the toast; at worst, it could push some other marriage one step closer to divorce.