Via Jezebel (from which I get approximately 73% of my daily news): Absolutely Fabulous, one of my favorite television shows of all time, is coming back for a new season later this year. The only emotion I can muster in response: ugh.
Don’t get me wrong, I love AbFab. A lot. Like, a lot a lot. (but not alot) But let’s face it: this was a show very much of its time, and it doesn’t translate well to the current moment. It’s probably true of most good shows that earlier seasons are stronger than later ones, but in the AbFab case this is compounded by the fact that the show was so rooted in the 1990s. While it’s true that some of the shows main themes–relationships among women, class performance, and the problem of aging in a culture that fetishizes youth–remain relevant (it’s hard to imagine a world in which they aren’t), much of the show’s humor stemmed from Patsy and Edina’s unwillingness to break with the excesses of their youth in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, twenty years on, youth and pop culture focuses our nostalgic energies on the very time in which the show debuted. Will new episodes be able to speak to anyone not already familiar with the show’s earlier iterations?
One also has to wonder how the show will deal with the current economic climate. I think the show’s earlier run felt very 1990s in part because of the conspicuously consumptive and self-absorbed atmosphere that matched up with the apparent economic expansion of the Clinton/Blair years. Even then, Edina’s affluence always seemed tenuous and put-on, so will Jennifer Saunders (her writing partner Dawn French doesn’t appear to be involved, although Joanna Lumley will return as Patsy Stone) show us how she deals with the Great Recession? Would it be gauche to do otherwise?
I’ll concede that the show was about much more than aging hipster ladies–Edina’s relationship with her daughter Saffron, and the inversion of the parent-child dynamic both fueled the laugh track and in a small way rang true for me as an only child of divorced parents growing up in household where my mother felt more like a partner in crime than a disciplinarian. So that aspect of the show may certainly retain its relevance, and no doubt the focus on outsize, dramatic female lead characters will continue to please its fanbase of gay men and the women who love them.
Case in point:
At least the self-absorption remains relevant. You’re reading a personal blog, after all.