A24 Co-Produced British Sitcom 'Such Brave Girls' Is Such Brilliant (and Candid, Complex and Darkly Hilarious) Viewing

If this acerbic new series seems close to reality, that's because it is, with sisters Kat Sadler and Lizzie Davidson starring and taking inspiration from their lives.
Sarah Ward
Published on April 24, 2024

For viewers, much that occurs in Such Brave Girls inspires two words: "here's hoping". Here's hoping that no one IRL has ever been contractually obliged to slip their hand down the pants of the boyfriend that they despise twice a week and on special occasions, for instance. Here's hoping that no one has ever sat in a doctor's office caked in green wicked witch makeup waiting for an appointment about deeply intimate matters, either. The emotions that both situations capture in this brilliant new three-time BAFTA-nominated British sitcom— one digging into the feeling of being stuck on a path that's anything but your dream and dispiritedly going with it, the other surveying life's uncanny ability to put everyone in circumstances so absurd that they seem surreal — are that raw and resonant, however, that watching resembles looking in a mirror no matter your own experiences.

If Such Brave Girls seems close to reality, that's because it is. In the A24 co-produced series — which joins the cult-favourite entertainment company's TV slate alongside other standouts such as Beef, Irma Vep, Mo and The Curse over the past two years, and streams via Stan in Australia — sisters Kat Sadler and Lizzie Davidson star as well as take cues from their lives and personalities. This isn't a play-by-play retelling, though. It doesn't claim to bring anyone faithfully and exactly to the screen. But it understands the truth of dealing with trauma, and its fallout and damage, making that plain vividly and with unflinching commitment. "Death, silence, hate" is this duo's personal spin on "live, laugh, love", they jest in a joking-but-not-joking way in-character; Such Brave Girls gets everyone giggling at the idea, but also backs it up.

Making their TV acting debuts together — Sadler has previously written for Frankie Boyle's New World Order, Joe Lycett's Got Your Back and more — Sadler and Davidson also play siblings. Josie and Billie, their respective on-screen surrogates, are navigating life's lows not only when the show's six-episode first season begins, but as it goes on. The entire setup was sparked by a phone conversation between the duo IRL, when one had attempted to take her life twice and the other was £20,000 in debt. While for most, a sitcom wouldn't come next, laughing at and lampooning themselves, plus seeing the absurdity, is part of Such Brave Girls' cathartic purpose for its driving forces. If you've ever thought "what else can you do?" when finding yourself inexplicably chuckling at your own misfortune, that's this series — this sharp, unsparing, candid, complex and darkly comedic series — from start to finish.

As well as creating the show and penning it, Sadler leads it as Josie, a bundle of nerves and uncertainty that's always earning Billie and their mother Deb's (Louise Brealey, Lockwood & Co) brutal honesty rather than sympathetic support. She's in her twenties, struggling with her mental health and aspiring to be an artist — but, above any firm sense of a career or a dream, she's largely working through a never-ending gap year as she tries to get through day after day. She receives a paycheque from a bookstore job that she abhors, usually while catching her colleagues off guard with her anecdotes. After hours, Josie's doting boyfriend Seb (Freddie Meredith, A Whole Lifetime with Jamie Demetriou) awaits — hovers at her side, pleads for sex and moves in without anyone telling her, to be precise — but she's certain that she's queer and only passionate about bartender Sid (Jude Mack, I Hate Suzie).

Davidson's Billie is the eternally optimistic opposite of her sister — albeit really only about the fact that Nicky (Sam Buchanan, Back to Black), the guy that she's hooking up with, will stop cheating on her, fall in love and whisk her away to Manchester to open a vodka bar bearing her name. There's nothing that she won't do to make that happen, whether it means bleaching her hair to look identical to her competition (Carla Woodcock, Tell Me Everything) or agreeing to be Nicky's cover when he's busted at a nightclub for drugs. The other thing that Billie has an unwavering belief in, to a delusional degree: that their dad, who went out for teabags a decade ago and never came home, has just gotten lost at the shops because it rearranges its aisles all the time.

Both girls live with the exasperated Deb, who also sees a relationship as the solution to her problems, setting her sights on the iPad-addicted Dev (Paul Bazely, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves). She's saddled with debt thanks to Josie and Billie's father going AWOL, and has picked her latest paramour as a path to financial stability thanks to his sprawling house alone. So, when she's not sternly advising her daughters to settle for what's easiest — "I know it's hard, but as you get older, you learn to love with less of your heart — less and less until eventually there's nothing left anymore" is one such piece of guidance; "work isn't about fulfilment, it's just so you can buy stuff to make you feel fulfilled" is another — she's telling them not to do anything to jeopardise what she considers the best chance they've all got as a family for a solvent future.

With actor-slash-director Simon Bird behind the lens — alongside first-timer Marco Alessi on one episode — if Such Brave Girls seems like it belongs in the same acerbically comedic realm as The Inbetweeners and Everyone Else Burns, there's clearly a reason for that, too. That said, in its mix of humour and bleakness, alongside its dedication to diving headfirst into the messy existences of its three key female characters, it's also in Fleabag's wheelhouse. Nothing is too grim to find guffaws in, though, whether it's depression, existential malaise, suicide, termination, abandonment, daddy issues, death, grief, narcissism, infidelity or realising how much about life is simply learning to stomach disappointment. Call it searing, call it ruthless, call it insightful, call it hilarious: each one applies.

Here's another "here's hoping" for Such Brave Girls' audience to put out into the world: here's hoping that there's more to come. Actually, here's yet one more: here's hoping that this is the start of big on-screen comedy careers for the show's sisters, who bring such a layered rapport to Josie and Billie that viewers who don't know that they're genuinely related will guess quickly, and who deliver masterclasses in comic timing again and again in the process. Brealey, who has Sherlock, A Discovery of Witches and Back also to her name, might appear to have a hard task, then, playing a convincing mum to real-life siblings. But Such Brave Girls doesn't just feel blisteringly authentic, even at its most ridiculous, whenever Sadler and Davidson are in the spotlight; it's that unvarnished with everyone.

Check out the trailer for Such Brave Girls below:

Such Brave Girls streams via Stan.

Published on April 24, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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