Stuff I love - Outnumbered
Its not often that my parents influence my taste these days. Once upon a time everything I knew came via my parents. I listened to their records; watched their choice in television; even shaped my political and world view via my dad's Daily Express. Naturally I grew up, rebelled and found other influences.
Last year though via my nephew and niece who were staying over I was introduced to 'Outnumbered'. It turns out it was my mum and dad (their grandparents) who'd turned them onto it in the first place.
On the face of it 'Outnumbered' is yet another generic BBC pre watershed comedy. Middle class, orthodox family, living in an indeterminate suburb of London. Appearances can be deceptive though. Pete and Sue the harassed parents who are the outnumbered of the title would love to be living in a middle class beeb sit com with children wise beyond their years but ultimately compliant to their parent's wishes. Instead they have to face the fact that their offspring, although bright, have minds of their own.
Much of the humor derives from the fact that Pete and Sue are determined to bring their kids up in an idealistic manner. Instead of physical violence or just good old fashioned shouting they choose to reason with the little dears. Unfortunately the kids are capable of running rings round their parents.
Karen the youngest is a case in point. She probes her parents arguments looking for a weakness and using the precedents of previous arguments to unpick their logic. Presumably when she grows up she'll be a very in demand barrister.
Ben the middle child is a force of nature. Constantly experimenting and pushing boundaries. He is also an adept liar which can lead to awkward moments for his parents. Such as the time when as a result of one-up-manship getting out of hand he claimed his dad had killed a man.
Jake the eldest child is a less obviously comedic character. Personally though as the eldest myself I can relate to him and I think the part is well written.
One of the impressive features of the program is that the two youngest children don't actually work to scripts. Instead they improvise their parts. Which I think is part of the reason why the kids are more realistic than the smarty pants children you normally get in this sort of comedy.
Of course there are always some naysayers around. I've read some criticism of the program. Complaints seem to mainly be about the fact that its middle class (I didn't realise we could only laugh at working class people). I also read an amusing complaint on the internet that it was too annoying because the adults parenting skills were rubbish. Presumably the same people wouldn't watch Fawlty Towers because of Basil's poor customer service?
Ultimately trying to write about comedy is pretty difficult so you're going to have to take my word for it and give this program a go.