TV Review: Juice (Series 1)

Mawaan Rizwan’s Juice feels like your archetypal BBC3 comedy in its unabashed quirkiness

“Jamma, do something”

From the outset, Juice asks us to believe that there’s a world where someone might actually not be all guns blazing at the prospect of moving in with Russell Tovey so I’m not sure where Mawaan Rizwan is coming from with that. But then his debut sitcom is decidedly quirky from the off, certainly at home on BBC3 (insofar as channels mean anything these days) where he’s been allowed to do his thing.

That thing is warmly surreal comedy and a trippy visual style that you don’t often see. Rizwan plays Jamma, an effervescent soul who loves a brightly coloured tracksuit, muddling along just fine as a junior marketing exec. He’s long been battling for attention in his raucous family but now he’s in a serious relationship with Guy, he’s not sure that he’s ready for this level of commitment.

That’s the straight way of putting it. The reality is something that feels a lot more fluid and haphazard (by design, natch) as escape rooms merge into transcendental episodes, walls slip and slide, people on phone calls appear right next to each other, the laws of physics no barrier for directors Rosco 5. It provides a unique angle on the unique stylings of Rizwan so in that respect, proves a good fit.

It’s also just a touch alienating, a quirkiness that I found distancing rather than engaging. Jamma’s mother and brother (played by Rizwan’s real-life mother and brother Shahnaz and Nabhaan) constantly overshadow him (and his father, played by Jeff Mirza) and their capers, along with Jamma’s struggle to deal with them, form the backbone of most episodes without offering much progression.

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