Hey, how’s this for an idea? Get two older classically trained knighted actors, most well-known for such iconic roles as Claudius in “I, Claudius”, Magneto in the first three Xmen movies, countless adaptations of various Shakespeare productions, and, of course, GANDALF, who also happen to have been good friends for over half a century. Throw them in a cozy British home with not much more information other than that they have been gay lovers for 49 years, and say “be HYSTERICAL”.

To us lesser mortals, that probably would be a challenge. To Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, however, it’s a piece of cake.

How can you not love this? Ian McKellen being an evil bitch and Derek Jacobi taking umbrage. It's fabulous.
How can you not love this? Ian McKellen being an evil bitch and Derek Jacobi taking umbrage. It’s fabulous.

I was visiting my friends last weekend when my mother called me. This conversation followed.

Mum: Gillian, you’re going to LOVE this new show.
Me: Oh? What’s it called?
Mum: “Vicious”. It’s Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi playing an old gay couple!

…to be honest, that was all I really needed to be sold. However, we carried on.

Me: Oh?
Mum: Yeah. The dialogue between them is just priceless. Here, have a listen.

There followed some dialogue that I couldn’t quite hear. But I was excited. I am a comedy tragic, that much is certain, and I have such a fondness for that style of British comedy that revolves mostly around the main characters saying mean things to each other. Maybe it’s to do with how polite-sounding that upper crust accent is, but that sort of insult comedy is, in my opinion, the sort of thing that the British do insanely well.

So I got back to the house here, Mum sat me down and made me watch, and I fell in love.

Vicious is an INSANELY funny show. I was in stitches from start to finish and have watched each episode at least twice in the three or so waking hours spare I have had each day since Sunday. This week has been a fairly crappy one as far as my mental illness is concerned, but there have been little rays of sunshine amidst the sad, and most of them have involved me remembering some line or facial expression from one of the episodes.

The thing is though, in many ways, Vicious actually is not a very good show. Wait, wait, hear me out. There have been six episodes so far, and each revolves around some fairly tired story we have seen many times before (one thinks the other is having an affair but is really working to buy their lover something special, an outsider is introduced to the home and is appalled at how they act, an anniversary is celebrated and everything goes wrong, etc.). Most characters are stock at best (the young, more ‘with it’ neighbour, the pervy older woman, the forgetful old dear), and some of the jokes are not remotely funny, or, worse, deeply insulting (the first episode features a series of rape jokes. The complete oxymoron that “rape joke” should be is enough to make me believe you guys don’t need me to continue). It’s not even ground-breaking in terms of representing gays in society.

But let me tell you, McKellen and Jacobi sell the ever-loving SHIT out of this show. These two have some of the most incredible chemistry I have ever seen. The way they talk and interact with each other, hurling insults, flapping their arms, blinking aristocratically, walking snootily past each other, you can just tell that they are having the time of their lives doing this show together. And that vibe, that chemistry, is what drew me in. To watch two such magnificent actors enjoying themselves and each others’ company is basically every good warm fuzzy feely emotion rolled into one.

Right, I’ve crapped on for long enough and it’s past my bedtime. All I have left to say is, watch Vicious. WATCH IT.

4 thoughts on ““Vicious” – a very special show.

  1. Oh yes, this sounds like just my type of show. You know, another great example when an old accomplished actor played a gay man and it was hilarious is the movie “Beginners.” Christopher Plummer is great in that movie. Don’t let the tepid rating on imdb turn you away.

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