tue 17/09/2019

Camping, Sky Atlantic, review - Lena Dunham's tentative British export | reviews, news & interviews

Camping, Sky Atlantic, review - Lena Dunham's tentative British export

Camping, Sky Atlantic, review - Lena Dunham's tentative British export

Julia Davis comedy pitches tent in America with David Tennant and Jennifer Garner

Canvasing: David Tennant and Jennifer Garner in Camping

When British sitcoms head west anything can happen. For every success – The Office had a happy second life with Steve Carell – there are half a dozen others that got lost in translation, including Coupling, Getting On, Gavin and Stacey, The It Crowd and The Vicar of Dibley. The UK version of Camping was broadcast for Sky Atlantic in 2016 and, while not as savage as her very darkest work, clearly bore the kitemark of Julie Davis, who doesn’t have the highest opinion of the middle classes. Lena Dunham, looking for something to do after Girls, has fallen on it and reincarnated it with regular co-writer Jenni Konner as an American eight-parter.

This being Dunham, there was the inevitable moment of flesh flash, Juliette Lewis doing the honours as she flung off every stitch to leap into the lake, to be followed by eager men. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The set-up is the same. A loose collection of middle-aged friends convene in the great outdoors for a weekend under canvas by way of a birthday celebration, in this case for Walt (David Tennant), who is the super-squashed husband of clipboard-waving vortex of joy Kathryn (Jennifer Garner).

The opening montage featured her leaping into the air to capture an image of spontaneous levity for her Instagram page “cresting 11 thousand followers” that in no way reflects her true personality. The British version of the role was essence of Vicki Pepperdine, who can play unhappy prigs in her sleep. Garner’s bones are not quite as funny but she has the lion’s share of the workable lines, many to do with the vulnerability of her dysfunctional pelvic floor – she had her hysterectomy in the “late Obama years”, meaning sex is off.

Tennant as her browbeaten husband does what he can. The rest of the ensemble feel at this stage like support players for hire, with the exception of Juliette Lewis, who as Jandice inherits the role Davis wrote for herself of the hot-to-trot group newbie with zero filter who works as a DJ, cheese maker, reiki healer and notary. “Your friends are so funny,” she says. Not really. There were quite good jokes about William Hurt and David Attenborough. And there was a fun boilerplate gag emblazoned on the T-shirt of one of the full-bodied lesbians who runs the camp: “I have a STD and its [sic] called kids”. But the general sense is that Camping is working its ass off for not quite enough reward.

This being Dunham, there was the inevitable moment of flesh flash, Juliette Lewis doing the honours


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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