Watch “Respectable” on Foxtel

Just as I praised “Benidorm”, the British comedy, I can also recommend another British comedy called “Respectable”. The latter is set in a brothel but has nothing really to do with prostitution. It’s actually an excellently written comedy series about a naive man who falls for a very dim prostitute.

Michael is unhappily married and so visits a brothel. There he meets and falls for Hayley who is mentally vacant but very pretty. The brothel is run by a senior citizen, Maureen, who maintains she is only 27 years old— in dog years, that is. The actors in this ensemble group are perfectly cast and the script is what makes this sitcom terrific. When you listen to Yelena, the Serbian prostitute, talk about her vocation, you will understand why the Yugoslavs have been at each other’s throats forever.

Not many comedies these days are actually funny. Most of them are stupid or crude or both and it’s been a long time, well, since “The Office” really, that anything good has appeared on the TV comedy scene. Of course, I’m referring to the British version here and not to that silly pale imitation made by the Americans which I only watched very briefly enough to conclude how inferior it was.

In fact, when it comes to funny American sitcoms, they are as rare as bathrooms in a British B & B. “Frasier” was good because of its excellent script and cast as were “Seinfeld” and way back, “Cheers”. The other problem is that American sitcoms go on for too many series, and then they run out of ideas. “Seinfeld” stopped just at the right time. Somehow, “American” and “comedy” just don’t seem to go together these days, do they?

To give the Americans their due, part of the problem is that they buy their ideas from overseas. it’s very hard to adapt a comedy from another culture and that’s what has been the problem with many British series that were bought by the Americans for adaptation. They don’t translate well. It’s what also happened to our Aussie series, “Kath and Kim” which was a flop when it was transported to the U.S. Comedy is not always international.

Anyhow, back to “Respectable” which did not last long. There are only six episodes, since it was taken off the air because some people thought it was making light of a gravely miserable social problem that was taking advantage of women. For those of you who want to see the sort of explicit sex that was in “Bodies”, or apparently in the American show “Satisfaction” (also set in a brothel) you will be disappointed. There’s hardly any sex in it. Just witty dialogue that will make you laugh, rather than squirm.

As for “The Guardian’s” criticism that “Respectable” makes fun of a serious social problem, how come it didn’t complain when “Bodies”, a UK series set in a hospital, depicts doctors behaving like rabbits on Viagra?

In my opinion, there’s nothing more serious in society than life and death, and not being able to locate medical staff who are too busy exploring one another’s anatomies, to look after patients in their care, is very worrying indeed.

Forget “the Guardian” and do yourselves a favour by enjoying “Respectable” while it’s still around. It’s worth it.

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