Brian and Domhnall Gleeson wrote Frank Of Ireland along with Michael Moloney, so it’s certainly written towards the brothers’ sensibilities. Laughing at awful characters who make everyone around them miserable is one of the joys of television. They could be good people who are just awful sometimes, like Frasier Crane, or awful people but their some degree of comeuppance or are made aware of their awfulness, like David Brent. But what about the characters who are awful but don’t think they’re awful and the world owes them something? Can they be funny? That’s the question we asked as we watched the new series Frank Of Ireland.
Frank Marron (Brian Gleeson), a 32-year-old semi-musician that lives in his childhood home with his mother Mary (Pom Boyd), wakes up and sees the note he scrawled on his hand “Don’t sleep with Àine.” He looks over and there’s Àine (Sarah Greene); her grandmother has just died and apparently, she looked to Frank for some comfort, even though they “just broke up” according to Frank — six years ago. She tells him that she’s dating a doctor who’s into MMA, and Frank keeps thinking that the guy is into MDMA, something completely different.
There are hits amid the many misses. The chemistry between the brothers warms the experience and gives it a charm it would otherwise struggle to summon. Their timing – particularly Brian’s, who has most to do – is immaculate; some of the viewer’s dislike of and frustration with the character may be mitigated by the comic mastery on show. There are some good gags: a repeated one about the album of tribute songs to films/the counties of Ireland that Brian endlessly plans and Doofus trying to think his way into Mary’s mind when she escapes from Brian’s tender ministrations.
The more the show commits, the more I at least found things to chuckle at, peaking with a fourth episode in which Frank crashes a gender-swapped production of 12 Angry Men, which he thinks is A Few Good Men. That episode lacks the hints of emotion that pop up at the end of the third episode, and it can't compete with the expert buffoonery of Brendan Gleeson's cameo in the sixth. But it's perhaps the episode that best indicates that the creators know how to properly craft the sort of farce that they're otherwise flailing at. You look at those three episodes and you might think further adventures in this world could be worthwhile.
Otherwise, you're grasping at snippets of clever, tart dialogue — "Which part of you will always love me?"/"My self-loathing, probably. Yeah, I didn't mean that in a good way." — or performance beats for justification to continue since it's not like the characters are constructed as anything more than "relatably sloppy." Frank of Ireland is under three hours of total bingeing — brief but still a long time to be deliberating on whether a show is a bad man-child comedy or a spotty parody of bad man-child comedies.
Final Score – [6/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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