DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

KARLE DUNBAR

Social Media Manager

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

GERALD JORDAN

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

CANDACE KELLEY

TOM BRINKMOELLER

MONIQUE NAZARETH

DAVID SICILIA

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

NOEL HOLSTON

JONATHAN STORM

 
 
 
 
 
A Multitude of People Can Connect with the Single Parenthood Problems of 'Motherland'
May 10, 2018  | By David Hinckley
 

Most of us, when we plow into one of the thousand awkward moments that comprise daily life, take a deep breath, suck it up, and stumble on. 

Not Sharon Horgan. She stops, takes notes and turns them into hit sitcoms like Motherland, a British series that becomes available Thursday on the streaming service Sundance Now. 

The latest from Horgan, whose previous comedies include Divorce and the unplanned parenthood tale Catastrophe, explores single parenthood in the hands of a woman who wants to be a good Mom and has no idea how. 

So she tries to wheel, deal, lie, and finesse her way out of it, which compounds all the original problems. 

Motherland,which originally aired in the U.K. in 2016, includes seven half-hour episodes.  

Anna Maxwell Martin (right) plays Julia, who has two pre-teen children and an estranged husband, which means she has to manage the kids’ lives by herself. 

She also has a job, which is inconvenient albeit essential. Ironically, she’s an events planner, which would suggest she possesses organizational skills, which she does not. 

She has dodged the kid issue by routinely leaving them with her mother, Marion (Ellie Haddington). When Marion closes the daycare and transportation center, Julia tries to replace her with the supportive local Mums’ circle which is led by Amanda (Lucy Punch, bottom). 

Amanda is one part annoyingly perfect, and one part grownup mean girl. She has a circle of fellow Mums who defer to her largely because that’s the way the game is played. Julia is tone-deaf to that game, as she is in other Mum areas, so she doesn’t get quite the communal support she needs. Instead, she falls in with Liz (Diane Morgan), a fellow outcast who is even less organized than Julia but doesn’t care. If kids want to go feral, that’s okay with Liz. 

That attitude is one reason Liz hasn’t cracked Amanda’s circle, though other subplots are also at work here. 

The only ray of hope for Liz and Julia is that they will never be the furthest outlier as long as Kevin (Paul Ready, above), a stay-at-home Dad, keeps trying to be one of the gals. 

The rejection of Kevin might seem to be gender-related. It’s not. It stems from the fact he’s a cloying bore with a talent for saying exactly the wrong thing. 

That makes him perfect, however, for Motherland. Whether it’s setting up a child’s birthday party, trying to bluff your way through a lie about your child being bullied or eating children’s leftovers out of the garbage because you forgot lunch, Julia can’t do much of anything that isn’t awkward, embarrassing, or just plain misguided. 

She’s not indifferent and certainly not bad. She’s just fallen so far behind that she seems unlikely ever to catch up. Like other Horgan characters, she also has nowhere to hide. We see what goes wrong. Everyone sees it. 

Especially Sharon Horgan.

 
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
 Website (optional)
 
EFPII
Type in the verification word shown on the image.