Watching TV with your parents has always been a minefield, and we all know that sinking feeling when the characters start snogging and you have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen next. You’re desperately hoping for a cut to the next scene or a tasteful dissolve or a surprise phone call, but nope, it looks like you’re going to have to endure watching people having sex while your mum’s sitting next to you eating a Walnut Whip and your dad is peering over his glasses.
So with that in mind, picture if you will, the scene. My folks came to visit and we all sat down to watch that lovely Stephen Mangan in Hang Ups (Channel 4) the tale of web therapist Richard Pitt, who deals with his insane patients, his loser best friend, his overbearing father (Charles Dance at his casually vicious best) and his own weirdo therapist (only bloody Richard E Grant) via his laptop.
Meanwhile, in 3D reality behind him, his wife (Katherine Parkinson) is spending a lot of time with her work colleague and going away on trips to Zurich, and his house is full of teenagers in various states of undress/self-obsession, doing Inbetweeners-style stuff like watching cartoon porn and slipping on puke.
I can’t decide which bit made me want to run out of the house screaming most…
Loosely based on an American show starring Lisa Kudrow, most of Hang Ups is shot on webcam with lots of fantastic semi-scripted, semi-improvised performances from people you’ve seen being brilliant in other things but you can’t quite remember what they were. Oh and people you definitely know, like Jessica Hynes and David Tennant. Mangan is always likeable and I once had a conversation on Twitter with him about halloumi. So I already love everything about this concept. Right, kettle on, let’s go.
And Hang Ups is great. It really is cringingly, outrageously funny. But it is also absolutely f***ing filthy. I can’t decide which bit made me want to run out of the house screaming most. Maybe it was the posh, gin-soaked woman talking about how her husband kept cats as a subtle way to torture her for an incident at school when she was exposed in the showers for having a “bald tuppence”. Or Richard E Grant advising him that whenever he thought of his father he should squeeze his own genitals. Or the scene when his wife put on a condom that snapped against his balls and ruined the moment. Yes, in retrospect, it could have been that one. At one point, to break the tension, I loudly said, “My God there’s a lot of sex in this!” to which my mum casually replied: “Oh well, we’ve all been there and done that.” O…KAY. If you’ll excuse me, I just have to leave the room now to check I haven’t left the grill on. And while I’m there, I might page Dr Freud.