Caitlin Moran is calling on Raised by Wolves fans to unite in protest at its cancellation. Hannah Dunleavy is in. And so are we.
A few months ago, when I was at the Hay Festival – oh, get me – I had a conversation about how, although 2016 was turning into a turgid mess of a year, it was shaping up to be a great time on television for women.
Sally Wainwright continues to be the queen of drama writing and turned out a glorious season of Happy Valley; the female characters completely ruled Line of Duty, and Orphan Black continued to put issues about a woman’s body centre stage and make it gripping. Jesus, even Game of Thrones had some non-gratuitous female nudity.
But those are all dramas, the person I was talking to (and possibly you just) said. What about comedy? To which I had one reply: Raised by Wolves.
Caitlin Moran’s sitcom, written with her sister Caroline, is based loosely on their childhood in Wolverhampton. Which, critics have pointed out, is quite a lot like other stuff Moran has written.
But they’re wrong, because Raised by Wolves‘ focus doesn’t only rest on the ‘Caitlin’ character, Germaine (played by the wonderful Helen Monks). Instead, lead character duties are shared with Aretha, her younger sister (the rather brilliant Alexa Davies), and her mother Della (Rebekah Staton, what can I say?).
Together, the three represent some of the least stereotyped female characters on TV ever. Germaine is overweight, over-confident and fascinated with bodily functions; Aretha is a still-in-the-closet lesbian with a thirst for knowledge, and Della is a gender non-conforming sexpot. And they’re all working-class women. Written by working-class women. Which makes them as rare as to basically be unicorns.
Now, feminist or no, redressing the balance of how women (and working-class people) are represented on TV isn’t enough to earn its place on the schedules. It’s a comedy series and, as such, its one task is to be funny.
Perhaps Raised by Wolves‘ cancellation would be understandable if it had failed there. But it hadn’t. OK, the pilot was a bit average, but the first series started with a confidence rarely seen in comedy and by the second it had matured into something that produced both proper LOL-age and genuinely touching scenes.
Where does its cancellation leave RBW fans? Well, Moran’s not a woman to take things lying down and has released a video calling on them to join her “rebel alliance”.
Good luck to everyone involved in Raised by Wolves. You deserve it. TV comedy would be a smaller place without you.
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Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.