Julia Davis, the English comedian, actor, writer and director who created the original (and better) version of Camping, brings a new cringe-comedy fest to HBO with Sally4Ever and it needs to be your new Brit-com obsession.
In it, Davis plays Emma, a gorgeous, charming and free-spirited lesbian who meets Sally (Catherine Shepherd) — a bit of a sad sack woman who's become an old lady way too soon. Sally, plain hair, boring job, no social life and smothering parents, is co-habbing with her astonishingly even more boring boyfriend David (Alex Macqueen), a guy who's basically a fanny pack and high tube socks in human form. He, like her parents, is rushing the dreadfully dull Sally into marriage and family life, a sentence even she can tell would be worse than prison.
All that changes when she meets Emma, who invites Sally to a super-cool underground party full of lights, sexually adventurous people, throbbing music and recreational drugs. If Sally's world was black and white before it's now in full-color 4D, and in an instant, Sally undoes her entire life like a shoestring. David, naturally, is blindsided and even more desperate than before, while Sally enters a thrilling new world of hot lesbian sex — sex, by the way, that's laugh-out-loud hysterical complete with a jaw-dropping gross-out gag I won't ruin for you by spoiling here — intrigue and sort-of glamour. I say sort-of because Emma is an actress/artist type, or at least she claims to be, but the more we get to know Emma the more we learn how positively awful she is, and how funny it is to watch Sally's whole world become unbearably, horrifically awkward.
The three episodes sent to critics — the seven-episode series is still airing in the U.K. — get off to a slightly slow start in the very beginning; it's fair to say that as Americans, we're somewhat predisposed to have our comedy come loud, fast and hard. But Sally4Ever is a bit like a roller coaster, inching its passengers up a steady track until Whoosh! you're in a free-fall full of fart jokes, laughable desperation and Emma's instability, heightened to unbelievable heights in scene after scene. By the end of the third, Emma has begun undermining Sally's relationship with her parents and nearly killed David's elderly mom with her unrepentant terribleness, which Julia Davis impressively keeps believable the more outrageous she gets. All this is imbued with the muted, knowing style of humor the Brits love so much and do so well, and fans of that style will enjoy this to bits.
Sally4Ever premieres Sunday Nov. 11 at 10:30 p.m.