One of the best feelings is when I have a recommendation so good that I cannot WAIT to share it on Cup of Jo…
Today, I’m excited to insist that you watch the British dark comedy TV series This Way Up. Have you seen it yet? (For all those readers who asked, “What do I do/watch/think/feel after Fleabag?”, here’s your answer.)
The premise: Irish comedian Aisling Bea plays Aine, a woman who has just checked out of a rehab center, where she went to recover from “a teeny little nervous breakdown.” Her sister Shona (Catastrophe‘s wonderful Sharon Horgan) is helping her get back on her feet. Aine teaches ESL classes and tutors a sweet French boy and tells herself not to call her ex-boyfriend. Most of all, she tries to keep her head above water, while keeping her depression at bay. The show is packed with jokes and vulnerability and sex and too much wine and so much heart.
(The reviews have been glowing, too: The Atlantic calls it a “bountiful binge watch,” NPR says it’s “well worth your time,” the Guardian says it “makes you laugh and flinch in the same perfect proportions,” and GQ calls it “the most bingeable show on TV right now.”)
On a personal note, I was startled to see someone who deals with anxiety and depression the same way that I do. I’ve never seen that before and almost fell of my chair. Usually, depressed characters on screen (similar to most depressed people in real life) will tend to avoid people and act quiet and sad around them, which is totally understandable — but Aine felt cheerful around people, truly buoyed by them, and then her brain would go dark when she was alone. (For example, in one episode, Aine cheerfully jokes about a Forever21 dress with her sister, but as soon as her sister heads out for the night, she crumbles onto the bathroom floor.) I know this so well.
When I’ve been depressed (after the birth of both boys) or generally anxious (basically all the time), I NEED to be around people. While feeling wobbly last spring, I’d shadow Alex around the house, and if he went out for a while, I’d sit on the stoop hoping someone would walk by. Once I even walked to the grocery store to chat with anyone in line. It’s not that I just enjoy chit-chatting for the sake of chit-chatting, it’s that being around people distracts me from my dark thoughts. Like Aine, I didn’t want to be alone with my brain.
The catch is that, when you’re having a hard time, you need people intensely and can feel almost desperate for company. I remember reading a humor article about the definition of hell for every personality type and mine was “You are stuck in a room by yourself for the rest of eternity,” and that rang so true for me. Aine seemed the same way — and, since I’d never seen a character portrayed like that before — the show meant so much to me.
My only criticism of This Way Up is that, like with Fleabag, there are only six 20-minute episodes in the season. I can’t wait for season two.
Go watch! I’m so curious to hear what you think. Xoxo
Have you ever seen a character that reminds you of yourself? Are you watching any good shows right now? Would love to hear.