London Irish review – Episode One – Channel 4

London Irish Channel 4I’m not Irish, so maybe I shouldn’t comment, but if I was from Ireland, I might suggest that the Irish writer of this show is dancing some alcoholic, religion obsessed, stupid, swearing Irish caricatures about for the enjoyment of the predominantly English audience. If an English person wrote this show, they’d stand accused of racism.

The first episode of London Irish introduced the characters: a group of hard-drinking 20-somethings living in London. One of them decided to organise a pub quiz to raise money for an old friend in need of a prosthetic limb.

The show is very irritating. Nobody stops talking. It’s fucking constant. It just will not slow down for a second. And the performances are incredibly annoying, especially from Sinead Keenan who will not stop gurning and shouting and swearing.

And speaking of swearing, the writer seems to think that swearing and vulgarity are a substitute for jokes. Just having a character talk about her shit isn’t funny – you need to put some actual jokes in there. Neither is it funny to have another character swear mindlessly with every single sentence. The Thick of It illustrates how humorous swearing should be done; like any form of writing or humour, there needs to be creativity involved.

The jokes that are in the show are all incredibly signposted. ‘There is absolutely no way we are going to that quiz,’ one character said. ‘You can win a three litre bottle of vodka,’ another replied. Cue the punchline response: ‘Three litre bottle of vodka? What time does it start?’ It’s sitcom writing by the numbers. And none of the characters feel real; they often speak in monologues or without any naturalism. You can see the writer standing behind every line.

There’s also some nasty humour in the show. I think the writer is probably influenced quite a bit by the American show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which similarly features characters who are terrible people. The problem is that while in that show the joke is on the characters themselves, in this show the humour seems genuinely mean in places. At one part this episode, a character is brought to the verge of vomiting from realising that she slept with a guy with only one hand. If you’re going to make jokes like that, you need to handle it appropriately or it comes across as cruel. London Irish isn’t deft enough to use offensive humour.

It’s pretty awful all round, London Irish. Not funny, irritating and mean. The Guardian’s review succinctly summed it up, commentating on the show’s potential to offend the Irish, saying that ‘the entire human race might want to start distancing itself’ from the show. It really is that bad.


10 thoughts on “London Irish review – Episode One – Channel 4

  1. I saw trailers for this, but never watched the first episode. At the end of one such trailer I turned to the other half and we both looked at each other in disbelief. Being Irish myself I’m going to avoid this one like the plague.

    • Thanks for the comment, good to hear an opinion from someone Irish. If you ever manage to watch an episode I’d be interested to know what you think about the whole show. It really does seem to play up to negative Irish stereotypes.

    • I know what you mean – I get the impression that the writer is trying to be deliberately offensive and that if the show was given that label it would be taken as a compliment. It’s not offensive to me (it’s just bad), but I do question why an Irish writer would create a show filled with such negative stereotypes of Irish people. I doubt it was conscious though. One of her friends should have taken her aside and pointed it out to her while she was writing the scripts.

      Thanks for reading, cheers!

  2. I’m Irish and I don’t feel this is negative at all. In fact, I think tonight’s second episode was absolutely hilarious.

  3. I think the people who will enjoy this show are Irish people themselves, or at least the ones who have a sense of humour about themselves. I’m from Derry and I have a few English friends and a lot of English cousins, and one thing I’m reminded of by them is that we do tend to swear more in day to day conversation (I know I do) than the English and it’s pretty much common knowledge that Irish, particularly in the north, talk much faster than their neighbours across the Irish Sea (hence the writer’s displeasure at the ‘constant talking), so while some may find these things annoying or offensive, I can actually relate to them and I have to say I’ve been having a laugh at the first two episodes. Any review I’ve read of the show criticises it for supposedly substituting vulgarity and smut for actual jokes and punch lines. In my opinion we have quite enough of those shows from across the Atlantic. After a while it gets tiresome hearing a bunch of scripted ‘witty’ punch lines, which if you used in real life, would result in rolling eyes and a nice “shut the fuck up.” Sometimes it’s nice to just sit down and listen to some good-old, real-world filth, and that’s why I’ll continue to watch this series.

  4. As someone who is London Irish I have asked C4 to immediately remove this so-called ‘comedy’ from our screens or at least re-name it. For those of us Londoners with Irish roots this nasty, cheap and utterly tasteless programme is a degradation of our proud ‘London Irish’ label and a huge insult to our Irish parents’ London legacy. I am disgusted to think that anyone could imagine that the real London Irish could identify with any of the cultural norms that this drivel labels as being typical of London Irish young people. What were they thinking? It denigrates the real London Irish and denigrates all the positive contributions that the Irish community has made to London over the last 50 years, if not more. I am really upset that anyone could imagine that this programme could represent the real London Irish community, myself or anyone in my family .

  5. Irish living in England here (not in London right now sadly)… Am a feminist, and I spend a lot of time abhoring the constant sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism in popular culture. If I’d read the review of this programe first, I wouldn’t have touched it with a bargepole. Luckily, I came to it fresh.

    I laughed like a drain throughout the whole thing. I went round a mate’s house, watched the first episode, and we ended up binge-watching the whole thing. I nearly cried from laughter. The script’s amazing, and Sinead Keenan can do no wrong. All the criticisms about how offensive it is are utterly correct – but the jokes are hilarious, the acting’s great, and it’s just really, really funny.

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