Wheels on fire. Rolling down the road. Best notify my next of kin, this wheel shall explode....
The preceding text is the chorus from "This Wheel’s On Fire," written by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko, played to the opening and closing credits of one of Britain's best loved sitcoms. Absolutely Fabulous is a BBC
comedy show that was first produced in the 1990's (remember the 90's?).
The show follows the lives of Edina Monsoon and her friend Patsy Stone played by Joanna Lumley. The two are supposedly high-flying members of society, at least they try to be. Sadly neither are very hard-working or clever, and both are veritable alcoholics, especially Patsy. Not only does Edina have to cope with Patsy, who often seems to get her in trouble, but also her dopey office assistant Bubble. The only vaguely sane person is Saffron Monsoon played by Julia Sawhalha, Edina's daughter, not that you would think it. Indeed, "Saffy-sweetie" as Edina calls her, is the only responsible adult in the household. Edina and Patsy get up to a great deal of trouble and you wonder how either of them could afford the living that they enjoy!
Though many fans wanted it to last longer than its first three seasons, the creator and actress who plays Edina Monsoon, Jennifer Saunders, said that to have had it run for more than that, would probably have resulted in it exiting on a low than a high. Rather than stretch the series out for as long as possible with stale scripts, it was decided to restrict the number of series and have each episode relatively fresh. Thus AbFab, as it is otherwise known, is loved rather than loathed.
However in recent years, Saunders broke her own rules and was pressured into writing a new series. There had always been the odd "Christmas special" but in 2000 a fourth series was produced. As feared, it lacked the punch the series had had before. The routine was getting old - just as Saunders predicted it would. But it was still funnier than a lot of other British comedy. They're rich, they've got wonderful houses and don't have to work much - but they're thick as a doorpost and we can all laugh at them!
Though Absolutely Fabulous is not my favourite British comedy (that honour falling to Fawlty Towers, it is still hilariously funny. Virtually all of the main characters are complete basket cases, whether they are funny in the head like Bubble, or just trying to keep up with a sense of fashion that they did not understand when they were 18 and so could never possibly get to grips with when they were 40 (Edina)! But the main reason it's funny is because of they way it ridicules that section of society that thinks it dresses like a dream, but as far as we are concerned looks like a bunch of stupid twits.
But at the same time we feel sorry for Eddy. We can identify with her, the sad, unattractive one who always tried to keep up with her peers but could never really fit in. She was too....geeky. She was always one step behind with the ever changing fashions of the 60s and 70s. Though she never admitted it, I doubt she really knew what was fashionable or why people wore what they did. She tries to be a "good" mum sometimes but inevitably fails because she never really grew up herself, treating Saffy like her mum.
Indeed much of the show revolves around the fight between the genders. Edina is the worst example of a baby boomer. She wants it all. She wants to stay young, dressing how she wants to, even though it's very clear she doesn't have the features or figure to pull it off, even if her ensembles were stylish). She wants to indulge in retail therapy, get completely drunk each night and not worry about the consequences. She certainly does not want to work or save money - her ex-husbands are often an extra source of money, even after they have paid her the alimony (the bambi-eyes go into action)! She relies on Saffy for everything. Saffy is not just embarrassed about her mother but in some ways has been emotionally damaged by Edina (and Patsy's) behaviour. Even Saffy's friends don't escape - one of her friends was given a chemical burn that horribly scared her neck. Edina seems to hate all of Saffy's friends (apart from the good-looking men), probably because they distract Saffy from attending to her mother's whims. However Saffy does get her own back sometimes and it is great to see when she does.
Now..... Patsy. Well I'd say more people laugh at her, though some want to be like she was when she was younger (and not a man). She WAS fashionable in her youth (and still is in a way). She was also a slut, but the less said about that the better. Patsy is like Edina's evil gremlin, that little devil that tells you to be bad and not listen to your mother (or daughter in Edina's case). As Patsy is her best friend, this means that Edina inevitably does the wrong thing. Of course she pays for this naivety and lack of judgement in many, many ways. Though she tries to gain sympathy from those around her (or perhaps I should say "inflict guilt upon"), the sensible ones know when to duck!
"You know in Bangkok they have toilets that insert a cigarette"
"My ring needs resealing, I know the gutters sagging a bit but how about a quick plunge up the waste pipe?"
"This little baby is like a Prozac raindrop from a thundercloud of depression."
"Eddy, your stomach's just like a dog waiting to be fed - it just hangs there until you want to kick it."
"One snap of my fingers and I can raise hemlines so high the whole world's your gynecologist."
"I don't think that "Kylie Minogue chokes on vegetarian sausage after all-night not-drinking binge at safe celebrity nightspot," has quite the same ring about it."
"Don't think you're so clever. I've started repressed false memory therapy; I'll get something on you yet. You in a wood in a hood. It's all coming back to me."
"And excuse me if I sue when I die prematurely of passive boredom. Of dull-as-dishwater-daughter-induced stress."
"I'm just not the sort of woman who wants to spend a free afternoon squatted over a small hand mirror, you know. For God's sake, I've seen doctors go pale."
"There was a time I was out there. I was hip. I was dangerous. The zeitgeist blew from me!"
"Get through? Mum, you've absolved yourself of responsibility. You live from self-induced crisis to self-induced crisis. Someone does your hair, someone chooses what you wear, someone does your brain, someone tells you what to eat and three times a week someone sticks a hose up your bum and flushes it all out of you!"
Saffy - 'I thought they didn't let people with drug convictions into America.'
Patsy - 'It's not so much a conviction, darling. It's more of a strong belief.'
Edina Monsoon - Jennifer Saunders
Patsy Stone - Joanna Lumley
Saffron Monsoon - Julia Sawhalha
Bubble - Jane Horrocks
Gran - June Whitfield
Britt Eklund as herself in "New Best Friend" (2nd series, ep. 4)
Mo Gaffney as Bo in "Birthday" (1st series, ep. 6)
Lulu as herself "New Best Friend" (2nd series, ep. 4)
Eleanor Bron as Patsy's mom in "Magazine"& "Birth" (1st series, ep. 5 & 2nd series, ep. 4)
Naomi Campbell as herself in "Jealous" (3rd series, ep. 4)
Adrian Edmondson as "Hamish" in "Magazine"& "New Best Friend" (1st series, ep. 5 & 2nd series, ep. 4)
Dawn French as Kathy in "Magazine" (1st series, ep. 5)
Richard E. Grant as "Justin" in "Hospital" (2nd series, ep. 1)
Germaine Greer as "mother" in "Hospital" (2nd series, ep. 1)
Kate O'Mara as Jackie in "Happy New Year" (3rd series, ep. 2)
Suzi Quattro as Nurse in "Hospital" (2nd series, ep. 1)
Mandy Rice-Davies as "Patsy" in "Hospital" (2nd series, ep. 1)
Miranda Richardson as "Bettina" in "New Best Friend" (2nd series, ep. 4)
Helena Bonham-Carter as "Saffron" in "Hospital" (2nd series, ep. 1)