TV Review: Trying (Apple TV)

Rafe Spall and Esther Smith impress in British comedy Trying, helped by the likes of Imelda Staunton and Cush Jumbo

“Hitler?
‘Badminton?'”

Just a quickie for this, as I’ve only just started to actually have a look at what is on AppleTV since they decided to extend my free trial. Created and written by Andy Wolton, Trying is a rather sweet and very typically British sitcom that follows Jason and Nikki, a 30-something couple as they struggle to conceive naturally and decide that they would like to adopt. Led by Rafe Spall and Esther Smith, the show is lots of fun and is blessed with some wonderful supporting performances.

Forever skirting that comedy/drama line, Trying is unafraid of tackling some rather meaty issues. Infertility and what that does to a couple, the inequities of the adoption system, funding for ESOL classes… And even the simplest idea of how relationships grow and are tested by the act of self-reflection – how do you measure achievement when London property prices lock you into renting forever and opportunities to climb the job ladder are way too few and far between.

This bittersweet tone to much of the comedy is beautifully essayed by Spall and Smith, their easygoing chemistry palpable from the off and meaning that we’re quickly invested in their fate. The contrast with their fecund best friends (an excellent Ophelia Lovibond and caddish Oliver Chris) is neatly done and not overplayed, similarly with the clashes between their differing family units. Siân Brooke is a particular delight as Nikki’s sister Karen with an other half no-one can stand.  

The real highlight comes with the arrival of Imelda Staunton as the social worker assigned to decide whether they’re appropriate adoption material, Staunton effortlessly reminding us how frigging great a comic performer she is alongside everything else. And running her a close second is Cush Jumbo as Jason’s wonderfully chaotic ex Jane – I hope they can find a way of bringing her back should we get a second series. And that’s not even mentioning the likes of Dominic Rowan, Trystan Gravelle, Sarah Niles and Rachel Parris to please my stagey cameo-loving heart. Recommended if you’ve got an Apple TV free trialm lurking around 😉 

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