What did Simon Amstell do when he left Never Mind the Buzzcocks? He went and lived with his grandma, he searched for something more meaningful to do with his life and he came up with Grandma’s House.
Now in its second series, the sitcom is better than ever. It is dry without being sarcastic and kooky without being The Mighty Boosh. Admittedly, there is little in the way of story line: Simon is attempting to become an actor, his mum is trying to fight off the advances of on-off squeeze Clive and his grandma is stealing stuffed animals from her friends.
The characterization, however, is truly excellent; bizarre without becoming too ridiculous. Leading the pack in terms of star quality is Simon’s Auntie Liz. All mustache, facial contortions and croaky voice, she spends most of every episode in a bad-tempered tizz. Then there is Clive, the recovering alcoholic, who speaks exclusively in cliches. Attempting to apologise to Simon’s Mum for ‘getting off’ with her sister Liz (!) he grovels, ‘I know we can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube but I don’t just want to throw in the towel. It was a bad call, I zigged when I should have zagged’. Whilst being brilliant, Grandma’s House is also a stressful and somewhat painful viewing experience: every time Liz screams for her son, “ADAAAAM!” you find yourself flinching, Grandma’s constant hysterical fussing is beyond irritating and sometimes you just want to slap self-centered and useless Simon.
The show is, however, peppered with the acerbic Amstell wit that has been sorely missing from our screens; can you think of any better way to celebrate Simon’s mum’s birthday than by playing sushi-based board game ‘Wasabi’ (actually a real game!) with a male stripper? Nah, neither can I.