thu 14/12/2017

Raised by Wolves, Series One, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

Raised by Wolves, Series One, Channel 4

Raised by Wolves, Series One, Channel 4

Caitlin Moran mixes fact and fiction with the help of her little sister

Wolf pack: Rebekah Stanton (centre) and the cast of 'Raised by Wolves'

For somebody who never seems to be short of things to say, journalist and author Caitlin Moran doesn’t half like to repeat herself. Raised by Wolves is, for those of you keeping score at home, her third attempt to tell the story of growing up chubby, eccentric and poor in Wolverhampton. Like last year’s novel How to Build a Girl this one is nominally fictional, but the addition of younger sister Caroline (Caz) as co-writer introduces something new.

That something, as Raised by Wolves returned for a full series after 2013’s pilot, was red-haired Aretha (Alexa Davies), cynical, precocious and the moral heart of the chaotic family at the centre of the series. Based on Caz herself, Aretha not only got all the best lines in this first of six episodes but also managed to make sex-crazed older sister Germaine (Helen Monks, the sitcom’s reimagining of Caitlin) a little less unbearable. I’d be the first to argue that there are not enough realistic portrayals of sexually frustrated teenage girls on TV – but there’s realistic, and then there’s getting your hand stuck in the letterbox of the house that you thought belonged to your inexplicable crush. No prizes for guessing what path Germaine’s story took.

Caz Moran and Alexa Davies; Helen Monk and Caitlin MoranFifteen months on from the pilot episode there was surprisingly little reintroduction to the Garry family. This wasn’t much of a problem in the case of some of the more cartoonish family members like Germaine, dorky younger sister Yoko (Molly Risker) and their horny Grampy (Philip Jackson), who spent much of the episode engaged in cringeworthy preparations to seduce his unseen wife when she returned from an Alan Titchmarsh book signing – and that was only the second most disturbing mental image of the night. Although, thankfully, even horse erections don’t get past broadcasting standards.

Mum Della (Rebekah Stanton), on the other hand, suffered a little at first, since her character’s somewhat apocalyptic world views and determination to raise her six kids with survival skills set her apart from Moran’s other fictional mother figures. However, Stanton’s mesmerising and hilarious performance, halfway between Tank Girl and Peggy Mitchell, set me right pretty quickly. By the end of half an hour, minus time for adverts, Della had taught her children where to find food in a public park, displayed surprising tenderness – and knowledge of the healing powers of Toblerone – in response to Yoko’s first period and rescued Germaine with the help of a handy axe and the power of suggestion. Her large brood, albeit two children down on the real-life Morans, might be the butt of a joke but there was no doubting the ability of the character to pull it off.

In the end, there’s plenty to set Raised by Wolves apart, if not from the rest of Caitlin Moran’s back catalogue then from TV in general – and even if it wasn’t, give me a hundred loudmouth girls yelling about periods over Jeremy Clarkson any day. If the next few episodes deliver half as many touristy shots of Wolverhampton or enough menstruation-themed movie titles to start a Twitter hashtag game, then the Moran sisters are on to a winner.

Give me a hundred loudmouth girls yelling about periods over Jeremy Clarkson any day

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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