Raised By Wolves – witty, hugely likeable sitcom

On the long list of things to like about Raised By Wolves—witty writing, new indelible comic archetypes, frank outlook and the nerdiest stream of Game Of Thrones references this side of our comments section—how much The Daily Mail dislikes it has to be somewhere near the top. You know you’re onto a good thing when your pilot episode gets a sneering one-star review from that quarter.

It’s little wonder the Mail failed to see the funny side of this Channel 4 sitcom. Raised By Wolves’ candid perspective is working class, female and mouthy, a combination loathsome to some but that sings hallelujah to the rest of us.

It’s not political tub-thumping that makes Raised By Wolves such reliable fun though. (As self-contained Aretha is the show’s main voice of social conscience, it doesn’t so much thump a tub as sigh inwardly and quote George Orwell. At a tub.) It’s the way with words.

The Garry family are a hyperverbal lot. Eldest daughter Germaine (Helen Monks) babbles incontinently like a sexually awakened brook. Narrating her days like a superstar YouTuber to an audience of none, Germaine views life as a series of sensual revelations. If she were a TV channel, it’d be called TMI.

Unlike Aretha (Alexa Davies), a gimlet-eyed introvert whose sardonic discourse is restricted to wry comment on Germaine’s suffocating oversharing and a world-weary acceptance of life’s injustices.

Mum Della (Rebekah Staton) communicates either in silent adamantine eye contact or unwavering monologues explaining the way of things to her brood, most ending in the more-threat-than-enquiry, “D’you get me?”.

Della’s a marvel. Show me another woman on TV this side of Happy Valley capable of talking that much sense while raising a family with one hand, grouting a tiled floor with the other and not even pausing to take the fag out of her mouth. They should put Della’s face on stamps.

And then there’s Grampy (Philip Jackson), a baby boomer Super Hans who, like Germaine, sees himself as one of life’s travellers, moseying along on a journey of gentle hedonism, self-actualisation and Heat Magazine. Grampy’s impossible not to love.

The same goes for the dialogue in Raised By Wolves, which just tickles you. It’s a show fluent in unexpected pop culture references. Garry family conversation is possibly the only party where the Kardashians mingle with Keith Moon, the Dalai Lama, Simon Schama and Channel 4 Economics Correspondent Paul Mason. And if the notion of a post-Sixth Extinction world in which penguins would run “a benign regime” doesn’t make you at least smile, then God, Jed, I don’t even want to know you.

That penguin line is part of a speech on imminent environmental collapse by the family’s new-for-series-two dad, Sean (a vegan oil rig worker played by the brilliant Paul Higgins). “We’re paving paradise to put up a Tesco Express,” he tells sensitive daughter Yoko “and everyone’s just drinking the Yop and looking the other way.”

A down-to-earth acceptance that society is being dismantled and the world is ending one apocalyptic day at a time runs throughout Raised By Wolves. Its characters’ undramatic acknowledgment of life’s parlous state is oddly cheering. We may be a crested heron trapped in the plastic ring of a discarded six-pack away from global disaster, it says, but there’s still satisfaction to be had from a can of dry cider and a well-laid patio.

Never mawkish or dreary, Raised By Wolves is packed with jokes at the expense of the modern world, a world that needs the piss taking. It’s a Sodastream sitcom injecting fizz into topics not usually the preserve of comedy. Series two, for example, has taken in the inequalities of the housing market, deficiencies in mainstream schooling, the tertiary sector economics of the car boot sale and more. It’s also about all the everyday stuff too. First loves, humdrum jobs, bills, funerals, sex, periods, pants and damp holidays on Welsh beaches.

Fast-moving, colourful and fun, with an ace soundtrack (as this Channel 4 Spotify playlist shows), it’s the sort of TV that perks you up and doesn’t outstay its welcome.

On the subject of which, please let’s have another series. As is often the case with sitcoms, the second run hit a real sweet spot. The characters started to feel like old friends, the tone settled and the whole thing leaped ahead beautifully. Come on, Channel 4, don’t serve us heartbreak stew.