Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pilot Review: Motherland

Motherland (Sundance Now)
Premiered May 10

With so many networks broadcasting to American viewers these days, it’s easy to find plenty of international programming that might previously not have been available to watch. One such series that has arrived to great acclaim is “Catastrophe,” distributed by Amazon, and now another show involved Sharon Horgan behind the scenes is arriving from BBC Two via Sundance Now’s streaming service. There have been a number of shows in recent years and throughout TV history about motherhood and the many demands it places upon those given an unreasonable amount to do by unsupportive, absent, or simply absent-minded fathers. In its opening scene, this show encapsulated it all thanks to the brilliantly unhinged performance of Anna Maxwell Martin as Julia, the mother who was cursing out speed bumps and running unnecessary red lights to get her kids to school only to find out that they were on break, and then try to cover up for it by making up an allegation about some random kid bullying her daughter. Among the other highlights of this episode were Liz casually chopping off her finger while trying to break apart the frozen cheese she had in her freezer, and Julia’s fervent hunger leading to Lucy Punch’s Amanda announcing the omelette she was going to be making for her, prompting the naive Kevin to request one of his own. This show is somewhat fun but not one that feels vital, just British enough to be less than inviting thanks to the general awkward dispositions of its characters.

How will it work as a series? Julia doesn’t seem to have any qualms about infiltrating the Alpha Mums group, but that’s also because she doesn’t let things like shame or embarrassment stand in her way, too fed up with the world to be held back by others. There should be some fun and a whole lot of uncomfortable moments along the way - viewers should know what to expect after this pilot.
How long will it last? Despite only decent reviews from critics in America, this show was a hit after debuting in September 2016 on BBC Two as nothing more than a pilot. Its first season went well and its second is already on the way. I see no reason why Sundance Now wouldn’t want to keep airing this show if it continues.

Pilot grade: B

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