Hullraisers review: Female-led Channel 4 comedy is irreverent, but flawed
Rana, Toni and Paula all live in Hull and are connected by the ties of family and friendship – and a bawdy sense of humour.
The dialogue in Channel 4 comedy Hullraisers seems to owe a debt to Gilmore Girls. The two female-led shows are wildly different – in tone, humour, location, and the working class protagonists of one versus the privileged mother-and-daughter duo of the other – but are well-matched in the sheer rapidity of their quick-fire quips and references.
The three female protagonists of Hullraisers deliver their lines as though determined to cram as many jokes as possible into their 24-minute episode: local footballers, postpartum bodies and meat pie-flavoured vapes are all fodder.
Unfortunately, the quick patter fails to distract from or mask some of the weaker aspects of this otherwise funny, irreverent first episode.
The three Hull-based leads are Rana (Taj Atwal), Toni (Leah Brotherhead) and Paula (Sinead Matthews), all working class women living in Hull and connected by the ties of family and friendship – and a bawdy sense of humour.
Rana is a policewoman driven by her libido; Toni is a chaotic mum and out-of-work actress driven to relive her misspent youth; and Paula is a homebody and mother-of-two driven by her desire to finally put her feet up.
The characters, though all likeable, feel like familiar archetypes, and occasionally it seems as though the three women are veering towards caricature.
The episode could also feel uneven in its emotional beats and character arcs, with an abrupt about-turn in the service of a feel-good ending which felt both forced and unearned.
Early in the episode, Toni takes her impressionable four-year-old to the pub, setting off a chain reaction that leaves her partner Craig (Perry Fitzpatrick) red-faced at a school play and doubting her parenting skills.
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During a tense car ride home after the play, Toni is drunk dialled by Rana, who needs her friend to pick her up from a wake (where she'd gone in pursuit of a very handsome mourner, but apparently ended up distracted by the free drink).
Toni turns up and leaves Craig and her young daughter Grace waiting in the car outside – but the aspiring actress soon forgets about them and Rana, instead delivering a funny anecdote for gloomy attendees in need of a chuckle. (We don't get the anecdote, only the punchline and aforementioned chuckle, so we're just left to assume that Toni is an excellent storyteller.)
With a minute left in the episode, Craig reacts not with the annoyance you'd expect, but with delight at seeing his partner in her 'element' (albeit in an elderly widow's gnome-filled living room).
But for viewers who have only just been introduced to her, there's little discernible difference between 'Toni in her element', and the same irrepressible, irresponsible Toni from earlier in the episode.
Hullraisers premiered on Channel 4 on Tuesday 12th April at 9:45pm. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.
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