For too long Him & Her has gone under the radar: too gross for the watercooler, too rude to watch with your mum. It’s “cult”, you say? I say it’s sadly overlooked. Now that the fourth and final series has finally begun it’s time for we fortunate folk in the know to proclaim its underrated, understated genius from the rooftops. So here are five reasons why Him & Her is one of the most observant, nuanced, beautifully acted, heart-warming comedies of recent years:
1. It’s an antidote to all those sickly-sweet Hollywood rom-coms we women are supposed to go gooey over. Yes, Him & Her is about two people deeply attracted to each other but kept out of each other’s arms by obstacles (mangy neighbours, embarrassing relatives). However, she’s not adorably clumsy and only living for the day she’ll wear a meringue up the aisle. He’s not charming but troubled, or waiting for a thunderstorm to declare his undying ardour. Becky and Steve are jobless, badly dressed, co-habiting in a messy bedsit; their idea of a romantic evening is comparing farts while sharing a can of Stella.
2. There are no jokes. The comedy is in the pained looks they share, the awkward silences, the subtext.
3. It’s about ordinary people. True, we’re not all unemployed and living in squalor. We don’t all slurp cold chicken soup out of the tin. Few of us, hopefully, have sisters as odious as Becky’s. Yet most of us have giggled over bodily emissions or done a crossword while on the loo, or else been reluctant guests at a wedding – as happens in this series.
4. None of the characters are just two-dimensional. You feel for the mangy neighbour, the bridesmaid sporting a terracotta spray tan, the reluctant groom. Even Becky’s sister – bridezilla – has a heart beneath her hitched-up bosom. I won’t ruin it, but there’s a moment in episode three when you’ll almost want to envelop her in a bear hug. Almost.
5. It’s deliciously, excruciatingly uncomfortable. Should one laugh or wince when someone sneezes in a baby’s face, as Becky did last night? The latter? You’d be better sticking to safer comic fare like Fresh Meat. But if your answer is “both”? You’re in for a treat.
Episodes one and two of Him & Her are available to watch on iPlayer; series four continues on Thursdays, 10pm BBC3