Tonight’s episode of BBC3 sitcom Him & Her sees Steve (Russell Tovey) and Becky (Sarah Solemani) hosting a party to introduce their parents. It may not shock you to learn that at some point in the proceedings, things take a disastrous turn.
Here are a few more examples of the awkward, and often catastrophic, coming together of two clans that’s become a staple of TV and big-screen comedy…
Meet the Parents
Meet the Parents is the daddy(-in-law) of the list – an entire film built around the phenomenon. Ben Stiller plays Gaylord Focker (two immediate black marks there, for potentially being too embarrassing to introduce as a son-in-law and for threatening to sabotage a daughter’s name), whose first encounter with his future in-laws is a very long weekend spent at their house. The father of the bride is Robert De Niro, chillingly convincing as an ex-CIA operative. No one is going to marry his little girl without first taking a lie detector test – and, even then, quite possibly no one is going to marry his little girl.
Back to the Future
In the scene I really wanted to show you, Marty McFly finds himself (two decades before he is due to be born) having dinner with his grandparents and his teenage mother – who, inconveniently, has the hots for him. That clip was unavailable, but thank god for time travel, which has the potential to throw up countless disturbing family encounters. So try to keep up (in this scene from BTTF2) as Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer, watches Marty and his mum’s future selves having dinner with the children Jennifer hasn’t even given birth to yet – who all look strikingly like their father.
The irascible MD has the perfect solution to an irritating mother coming round for dinner – drug her food. This episode preview gives us just a taster of the incident but, while Radio Times roundly condemns spiking people’s meals or drinks, the gist is she deserved it.
The Worst Week of My Life
If Meet the Parents is the daddy of the genre, then The Worst Week of My Life – which ran for two series and a three-part Christmas special – has to be the grandaddy (or the uptight British uncle. Or something). In this scene, the hapless Howard (Ben Miller) gets up in the middle of the night, desperate to relieve himself, but sadly mistakes his in-laws’ pantry for the downstairs loo and proceeds to make his very own marinade for their Christmas goose.
Phoebe, whose own family life has been far from normal, meets boyfriend Mike’s wealthy, stuck-up parents and their friends. So nervous is she that she finds herself involuntarily speaking like Katharine Hepburn, sharing unwanted details of her and Mike’s sex life, giving an impromptu rendition of Smelly Cat and puking in a closet. The only way is up, Pheebs. (See the top of the page for the clip)