So... what in shitting hell was Grandma's House?
I say this, ironically, as someone who has seen two episodes with no plans to stop. It's one of the weirdest phenomenon's I've experienced with such a sub-par sitcom.
Now the writing isn't as bad as most people think, I can kind of see where they're coming from:
"Remember the 'Royle Family'? Let's just do that, but give them money, make them Jewish, and force Simon Amstell to act at gunpoint. If he makes any attempt at anything other than twatty smugness, blow his face off.'
And to be honest, it sort of works, but not in the way they expected. The script ticks all the boxes to get a BBC commission (it seems ex. NMTB presenters and contestants are mandatory nowadays in all broadcasts), but ends up just being one of the most appalling examples of a sitcom I've ever seen. And this statement should not be taken lightly; I've spent a lot of my youth watching ITV.
However, that's not to say that it's not enjoyable. I cannot deny the significant entertainment that is derived from watching a leading actor so out of his depth. And when you consider that 'out of his depth' equates to playing himself, all the more the joy. I would even venture to say that the episodes are made up of nothing but outtakes due to spending hours trying to convince him that he should probably try and pretend the camera isn't there, then thinking 'oh fuck it, it's only braindead Simon Amstell fanboys watching this shit anyway'.
And don't even get me started on the approach to the darker subjects, which creep into the scenes like an elephant clambering through their double-glazed patio doors. The words 'prostate cancer' are thrown around in increasingly frequency, only being met with a blank stare from a vacant ex T4 presenter. I just don't know what it all means, and I'm not sure I want to. Talk of 'bagels' as a vague reference to an unknown racial slur, just came across as deeply unsettling rather than awkwardly funny.
Something that keeps me coming back to this, however, is the thought I can't shake off that the writers are more clever than we realise. Simon is playing (supposedly) an alternative version of himself, a Larry David of sorts, but ends up revealing that he is probably not that different from the character he's playing after all.
Vacuous, narcisstic and unable to fathom any conversation that isn't aided by an autocue. Is this a sitcom? Seems to me like we're a fly on the wall watching a fascinatingly ironic personality car crash.