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'There She Goes' Takes an Honest – and Comedic – Look at a Difficult Life
April 16, 2019  | By David Hinckley
 

If you find yourself laughing at the British series There She Goes, it will often be to keep from crying.

There She Goes, five half-hour episodes that become available in the U.S. on Tuesday through the streaming service BritBox, follows the life of 9-year-old Rosie Yates (Miley Locke, top), who was born with a chromosomal disorder that left her nonverbal and severely hyperactive.

The series, billed as a comedic drama, mixes vignettes from her life with frequent and sometimes unnecessary flashbacks to the time before and after her birth.

In the process, There She Goes also tracks the lives of Rosie’s parents, Simon (David Tennant, top) and Emily (Jessica Hynes, top). We also follow, to a slightly lesser extent, her older brother Ben (Edan Hayhurst, top).

Rosie’s condition, rare enough to be undiagnosed though its effects are clear, shapes all their lives.

One typical scene: Simon and Emily are trying to engage Rosie in her room, an ongoing challenge, when it becomes clear she has again not used the bathroom for a bodily function. As the parents try to locate exactly where this occurred, Rosie darts downstairs to the kitchen, where she dumps a box of slippery pellets on the floor and then pours a bottle of milk over her head before they can take it away from her. She giggles with delight.

To the credit of There She Goes, this scene isn’t shot as absurdist comedy. Rather, it encapsulates the unending frustration for everyone, made exponentially more frustrating because no one is at fault. Rosie isn’t acting out of petulance or willful disregard. She’s acting on the impulse of a brain that operates like a pinball machine.  

At other times, she may impulsively dart out into the street, with no cautionary mechanism telling her that’s a bad idea.

So she must be under constant surveillance, because even though she has stretches of calm, there are no warnings when an impulse will surface. If she doesn’t want to go to sleep when it’s bedtime, she may get up and slam her door repeatedly into the wall.

There She Goes was developed by Shaun Pye and his wife Sarah, who have a real-life child with Rosie’s challenges, and There She Goes shows both parents at times thinking and/or acting in uncharitable ways, which make them feel guilty and awful.

While both are devoted to Rosie, Emily admits to stretches when she fantasizes about having a child without Rosie’s problems. Simon’s exasperation over Rosie’s inability to follow or even seemingly comprehend warnings and directions can boil over into yelling at her, which again has no effect beyond compounding his own guilt.

Ben, a bright kid, tries to be understanding and can’t help sometimes feeling like his legitimate need for some attention of his own gets consistently derailed.

The comedy part, presumably, refers to the periodic victories – the first time Rosie smiles, the moment when Rosie can compose a sentence on a talking iPad.

In situations where Rosie’s behavior causes no problems or dangers, it can create a pleasant vignette, sometimes bordering on slapstick, over which everyone can smile.

Most significantly, there are gradual and particular moments of bonding, when the common need to protect and nurture Rosie brings the Yates family together for something beyond individual pleasure.

That’s not exactly comedy, but it does send an encouraging message about families with challenged children – many of whom, in real life, end up being driven apart by the relentless pressure.   

There She Goes celebrates the victories that are possible, without brushing aside their cost.

 
 
 
 
 
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