The Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special isn't brilliant or offensively awful - it's perfectly fine - Mrs Brown's Boys

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special isn't brilliant or offensively awful - it's perfectly fine

For something that provokes such venom, Mrs Brown’s Boys is a lot like other British comedies



Mrs Brown (right) meets the other Mrs Brown (third from the left) (Picture: BBC Studios/ Alan Peebles)



Mrs Brown's Boys, BBC One, ★★★
The country was confronted by its greatest source of division on Christmas evening: the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special. There seem to be only two schools of thought about Brendan O’Carroll’s sitcom: that it’s the worst thing on TV; or that it’s truly beloved by the nation (it was the most-watched programme on Christmas Day in 2017, but numbers fell substantially last year).

Neither argument seems particularly valid. This Christmas special, like those that have gone before it, was... fine.


Mrs Brown started the episode by falling out with various family members, then wished she’d never been born – and an “angel”, A Christmas Carol-style, appeared to grant her wish. In her place in this alternate universe was a snobby, English (!) Mrs Brown, with a perfectly turned-out Christmas tree blasting fake snow into the family room.


For something that provokes such venom, Mrs Brown’s Boys is a lot like other British comedies: The Royle Family, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Father Ted (and no, before you write in, I’m not saying it’s as good). The shonky set, the uproarious audience laughter, and the lame Christmas cracker punchlines (“she thinks I’m too nosy. I read it in her diary”) all feel comforting and familiar.

Some of the humour borders on the dated and offensive (I could have done without the “happiest gay in the village” line in this special), but as far as I can tell this isn’t a comedy about a man in drag, at least not any more – it’s a comedy about families being families.

Besides, which of us watches TV on Christmas Day as a political statement? Mrs Brown’s Boys is no more and no less than something that the odds and sods of family still up past 10 can watch together, before wandering off to bed.

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