Miranda is also one of many sitcoms named after the comedian or comedienne who plays the title role, in the same vein as Roseanne Barr's Roseanne, or Jerry Seinfeld's Seinfeld. It ran on BBC Two from 2009-2015. After seeing comedienne Miranda Hart perform stand-up, it was suggested she write a situational comedy, which started out first as a radio series until being reworked for television.
There's not much in terms of this show's setup that really breaks any new ground. Single, thirtysomething woman with her eye on the boy next door, will they or won't they relationship. (Please excuse the "nouning" here.) Check. Apartment set, check, office set, check, nearby restaurant set, check. Quirky best friend, check, overbearing but well meaning mother constantly asking "when are you getting married", check. It really is a "paint by numbers" situational comedy in terms of its plot, characters and structure. TL:DR - she cashes out her rich family's inheritance to her (in real life her father is an OBE and there are various Lords and such in her family) and buys a joke shop with an apartment above. And.... go.
The fact that it's got such a skeletal and by-the-books premise is excellent, and here's why.
It's a semi-autobiographical series about the main character, a thirtysomething woman of upper-middle-class breeding complete with boarding schools, ponies and developing a cadre of social climbing ex-school friends. People who speak with clipped posh accents and end words unneccesarily with endings to foreign words or use gratingly pretentious abbreviations of words that didn't need them. However, the woman in question happens to be an awkward, fart-joke loving bon vivant with little interest in social climbing, the property ladder, or the finer things in life. All she wants is to have fun, find love, and curl up with whoever that turns out to be with with a microwave curry and a horror film.
She's also over six feet, solidly built (not fat, but she played a female professional wrestler in one movie) and, not to be unkind, but with a weak chin and very average looks. These are germane to the write-up, so this is pointed out. In Hyperdrive, a science-fiction comedy Miranda Hart played a supporting role in, her character was nicknamed "womanzilla", and in this series the girls joke that at boarding school they called her "Queen Kong", and still do. To add to the effect, they paired her with a sidekick on the show who's diminutive in a Melissa Rauch way , blonde with conventional good looks, and rather poised. She's not trying to find a man before her looks fade into old age, she's clearly dealt with the societal handicap of being in an "awkward" body since day one.
Physically and personality-wise, she's a misfit, and so she spends her evenings at the beginning of the series enjoying karaoke nights with her friends, which consist of random pieces of fruit with googly eyes attached. In fact, her life is so devoid of normal social interaction she's seen in full tie and tails conducting an choir consisting of googly eyes-adorned tangerines.
Mining discomfort from awkwardness is as old as comedy itself, but Miranda manages to start from a palette of issues thirtysomething women especially but women in general deal with - and takes it all to the next level. With a gift for slapstick and creating awkward situations, she not only ruins other people's marriage proposals and tries to lie her way out of one embarassing scenario and into an even more embarassing one - she's fully prepared to tear off her own trousers and/or dress in public (caught in an elevator, car door, etc) and put her body on display for comedic purposes. Because the structure of the show is extremely simple, it allows her to really shine at what she does best.
Of course, there's a romantic subplot, she's pining for the boy next door, an itinerant chef. But various things get in the way, even though at the beginning of the series they promise to be each other's "backup spouse" in case neither party has found a mate by age 45. He marries a woman for a Green Card in an awkward scenario he regrets and she finds out about later. He clearly loves her, but she's not petite or pretty, she's awkward with an oft-failing business and there's part of him that wishes he didn't love her so much because there are other women who look better on paper. By the end of series three not only does she have various throw pillows with his face printed on them, but has constructed a facsimile of him out of dowelling, a cutout head, and stuffed gloves. He won't commit to her, but she can't let him go. There is a resolution of all the romantic subplots, but maddeningly - they're done in a brilliant cliffhanger that will not be resolved in Series 4 because there WILL BE no Series 4.
Her mother would love to marry her off because at least then she'd have something somewhat impressive to say about her at social gatherings. Mother's pushy, overbearing, and reminds Miranda just by her presence she's single, a disappointment to her family, and not an achiever like the rest of her schoolmates.
In fact, if it wasn't a comedy, it would be a very bleak story about a lonely woman who squandered what little she had going for her.
But it is a comedy, and a good one - it's also pretty clear that the bubbly comedienne with the ready and endearing smile IS having fun with it all, though - at the end of each show it descends into a shout-out to the music hall and to older TV shows consisting of the cast breaking into a song and dance number over the credits. She'll break the "fourth wall" to address the audience as a larger cadre of friends she allows into the most intimate parts of her life, which is amazingly self-referential. And who can't love scripts that include a woman putting a box of popcorn, without thinking, under a motion-detector operated hand dryer?
In addition to Hart's skill at joke timing, deadpan faces and slapstick, she's so unbelievably likeable, even lovable and frankly adorable - and you can't help but cheer for her and love her. You can't help but walk away from the series wondering just why we put so much emphasis on looking a certain way, or achieving certain things. You come to realize, and it's most certainly Miranda Hart's very subversive point, that one should never discard a Monet simply because it isn't a Da Vinci.
On Reddit, especially in some of the darker corners, there are clearly men who are frankly scared of women. This should be required watching for them, it would show them that women have doubts, insecurities, fears as well and are not the cutting, evil creatures of their imagination. And also for any lonely women out there in similar circumstances who need to be cheered up and shown that they can also be awesome and wonderful creatures too. From a simple, tired, cookie cutter set piece, the cast and writers have created something that works on many, many levels. But you can most certainly sit down and enjoy it as the light entertainment it is.