The Duchess: Full Season 1
September 21, 2020 2:19 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Comedian Katherine Ryan created and plays a single mum trying to raise her daughter in London while wondering if she should have another kid.
posted by ellieBOA (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I loved the first episode! She is so mean and self-centred and then surprisingly sweet. I have to wait until my youngest is out of the house to watch the rest as she recognised Ryan from panel shows and is desperate to watch it - very not child-friendly.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:07 AM on September 21, 2020

I thought it was funny at first when her meanness is targeted at people who mostly seem to deserve it. But it rapidly becomes clear that she is just awful to literally everyone around her all the time except her daughter and I eventually gave up.

I like that we are seeing more women leads who don't have to be super likable all the time but there still has to be a kernel of something you can like about them even if they are a serial killer or something. There didn't seem to be any personal growth in the offing, just more meanness, directed at people who have just had the misfortune to cross paths with her and have done nothing to deserve that level of hate.

If someone else had watched it to the end, I am curious if there's a redemption arc of some kind or at least a moment when she realizes that she brings her own misery in herself but I didn't see one coming.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:07 PM on September 21, 2020

Hi jacquilynne, she does improve towards the end of the series.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:30 PM on September 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Well I just watched it all based on your promise that there’d be a slight redemption arc, ellieBOA, and hmm now I’m a bit disappointed there ;)

Mainly because poor poor Evan, he was already saintly up to there and the story was already so absurd and improbable and over the top, why not go the full length and make him accept and welcome the twist at the end, that would have been more fun, no? I don’t know, I’m not convinced by him aiming all his resentment at the child, that was a bit too sudden.

Anyway, the very unlikeable lead character turned me off a bit at the start and I found the obsessive mother-daughter relationship a bit much, but when I started taking it more lightheartedly I have to say overall it wasn’t so bad. And hat tip to the always amazing Doon Mackichan as Cheryl, she was great.
posted by bitteschoen at 6:12 AM on September 22, 2020

I’m sorry bitteschoen! I didn’t find her as off putting as you two seemed to so she seemed evolved at the end.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:44 AM on September 22, 2020

I wasn’t being entirely serious elliBOA! In fact I should thank you because your comment made me finish the show despite being put off at the start and overall I’m glad I watched it all. I did begin to appreciate what Ryan was doing with her character and her style of comedy a bit more with each episode. I was just hoping Evan’s character could fit into the happy ending too...
posted by bitteschoen at 7:19 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I also found the lead character nearly a deal breaker. And didn't really think she had any growth. She basically had all the assumptions she had at the beginning of the show reaffirmed at the end and still got essentially everything she wanted?

BUT. I also agree that 1) I appreciate having female leads that aren't perfect and 2) Despite not actually liking the character, the show was entertaining enough to finish and somewhat enjoy.

I think maybe the parts that worked best for me were when Ryan was interacting with her ex, because they were both such patently awful people that their insults and general assholery felt like a victimless crime? But when either were unleashed on the general public or people who happened to be in their orbit (Evan. Other mom at school, etc.) it was less charming and more cringey.

Would I watch a second season? Yeah, I probably would. But I wouldn't expect to fall in love with it or be moved like I would with something like Fleabag.

This was fine. Not great, not awful, but fine.
posted by Bibliogeek at 3:50 PM on September 23, 2020

I finished it and really liked it. Part is being an unabashed Ryan fan from her stand-up, but also that she did show that Evan was not perfect (and a little foreshadowing of Olive if she didn't reign in her helicoptering) with his parents and his inability to stand up for himself which showed when all the things he had thought but hadn't said exploded towards Olive.

Also, co-parenting with someone you deservedly hate is vicious. Putting her kid first and the way she had to do that when she'd had such a rough first start - the gold digger comments still stinging years later - I liked that it showed up later on, not right at the start when it would win more sympathy. And that she had still managed to see that there was worth in that when Olive was so resplendently happy at her dad's wedding.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:20 PM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I gave up after two-and-a-bit episodes. I thought it was unfunny, badly acted (apart from the kid, who was great) and every one of the characters was unlikeable.
posted by essexjan at 7:39 AM on September 27, 2020

I finished it and really liked it. Part is being an unabashed Ryan fan from her stand-up

I actually wasn’t that familiar with her comedy, so I went and watched some of that on youtube and netflix and I have to say I enjoyed it more straight away, she’s really great at stand-up (and as a panel show guest!). I watched the clips where she explains about the ideas behind The Duchess and how she deliberately played an unlikeable narcissistic female character and that to me made more sense in the explanation than in the series really. Also the story about running into annoying mums at the school, I found that a lot funnier in the stand-up delivery than in its dramatization, it was more immediate and relatable when she was narrating it than playing it.

Then again, watching those clips also made me appreciate the intent of the series more, I just don’t think it is as good a medium for her as her stand-up really, that’s my remaining little bit of criticism. Her style of comedy works better for me in that context, when she has complete freedom on a stage and is interacting with an audience, rather than trying to fit that comedy into a format where even if you know it’s comedy and exaggerated, you still sort of expect a bit more realism and likeability from characters.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:38 AM on September 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

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