Not many TV shows could get away with having a teenager shout “wank away the pain!” at a funeral, and it be genuinely funny. But Caitlin and Caroline Moran’s sitcom smashed taboos every week when it first aired back in March — and the destruction was a joy to witness.
In the final episode of series one, a hormone-fuelled Germaine dragged her sisters to one of Wolverhampton’s finest nightclubs. She was on a personal mission: she had to snare her beloved boy-next-door Lee, or the world would implode. Germaine’s sister – the clever, fearful Aretha – was horrified as she stood awkwardly near the thumping, sweat-stained dance floor. She was thinking what we’ve all pondered at some point in a club: why on earth do humans do this?
That scene also exemplifies why Raised By Wolves is such an enjoyable show. While it might be about an unusually large family of home-schooled children, it’s just as much about the universal, tricky experience of being a teenager. And a female one at that.
What it means to be a woman is beautifully explored in the sitcom, in a way rarely seen on telly. Caitlin Moran said she wanted the family matriarch to be unlike the mums we usually see on-screen, the well-behaved “misery-clouds” with no real personality. Rebekah Staton’s Della has brilliantly bucked all those trends. Armed with unconventional wisdom — for example, that the secret of getting on in life is to be two-faced — DIY expertise, and survival instinct enough to out-live an apocalypse, she’s the on-screen woman we rarely get a glimpse of.
Of course, it hasn’t been a perfect series, and occasionally the dialogue is over-written and unrealistic, with too many forced witticisms. But a sitcom co-written by wordsmith columnist Caitlin Moran was always going to contain characters mimicking her own perfectly formed, humorous way of speaking. An average teen might be unlikely to say, “it’s hard to be chic in a Mondeo,” but I can well imagine Moran uttering those words when she was fourteen.
I found every one of the six episodes funny, clever and full of pathos. Helen Monks as the eccentric young Caitlin is absolutely hilarious, and her long-suffering sisters Aretha (Alexa Davies ) and Yoko (Molly Risker) play their parts beautifully.
Back to that funeral, where Germaine says: “I really struggled with grief this week but then I made a discovery that changed everything. I’ve discovered masturbation.
“You guys really need to try it, it’s brill…I think I’m turning out to be quite broad-minded!”
So thank the TV gods that Channel 4 has had its very own Eureka moment about the Moran sisters’ sitcom, and has commissioned another series. It would have been madness not to.
My date with Caitlin Moran on a coach around Wolverhampton
–In conversation with Caitlin Moran: Raised By Wolves, horny teenage girls and working class telly