Aired On: BBC
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Hello again my audience and friends from across the virtual web. Once again I come to you all with a review dug from the well of my Netflix viewing in my never-ending search to find quality programming. The premise of the show, according to the Netflix summary, sounded suspiciously like the premise of the first episode of Friends. It details the exploits of Donna (Sharon Horgan), who, having run away from her fiancé, moves in to a flat with two old mates, Karen (Tanya Franks) and Louise (Rebekah Staton) for a more adventurous life. Maybe I was grasping at straws but to me it sounded like Rachel Green's (Jennifer Aniston) abandonment of her fiancé to live with Monica (Courtney Cox) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow). Either way, I decided to check out and compare what I thought would be a UK version of Friends. It turns out, Pulling is nothing like Friends. Its a raunchy, perverse, and highly irreverent dark comedy.
The tone of the show would have been obvious to me from the start had I been more familiar with British slang. 'Pulling' is a UK euphemism for manual sexual machinations, which, I guess, properly prepares the audience for the show.
As I stated, Pulling focuses on Donna, an Irish-born bride-to-be, living in London, who suddenly decides the life she's heading toward with her fiancé Karl (Cavan Clerkin) is too boring for her to stomach any longer. She breaks the news to Karl just before a rehearsal dinner with his family, and he, in turn, exposes her to his family after begging her to wait until after the dinner to announce their separation.
The series continues with Donna, looking for excitement and Karl looking for solid ground with which to anchor the remaining pieces of his life and shattered ego. But despite the adventures, the affairs, the mistakes, attempted suicides, insults, betrayal and strife, Donna and Karl keep finding their lives intertwined, even as Karl attempts to pull away from Donna. But the further he goes from her, the more she realizes that she doesn't want to live without him in her life. But will they ever come to a place where he can take her back and she can admit that she made a mistake?
Pulling offers more than just a tour of a bad break up and its aftermath, it brings a load of laughs, entertainment and sometimes even some head-shaking groans of disbelief and embarrassment. What I liked about the show most was that even though the focus of the show was on Donna and her two friends, they were all flawed, selfish characters, with Karl as the only morally innocent one. Donna, though shy and timid, is prone to putting her own needs above others and seems completely oblivious to the feelings of other people in her pursuit of a good time.
Tanya is a drunken train wreck, with a string of one-night stands that often puts her job as a kindergarten teacher in jeopardy, as she either shows up to work hungover or wakes up from a drunken encounter in her classroom. In fact, the first few episodes have her repeatedly waking up in random places with strange men, and once, walking into a bar, checking her underwear and screaming to the patrons, “Whose knickers am I wearing?” That statement, by the way, is indicative of Tanya's entire personality.
Louise, sex-deprived waitress, on the surface, seems to be a very sweet, innocent victim of Tanya's whirlwind life, but a closer inspection shows her to be just as self-centered as the rest of the lot. One of her most selfish moments comes when Louise—having developed a penchant for shoplifting—slips a few items into the pocket of an elderly man who had spotted her stealing, in order to draw attention away from herself by naming him as a shoplifter. Louise also has some truly hysterical moments, as in the one where—in Friends fashion—she dates a man that seems perfect, until he reveals that he was convicted of exposing himself young women in public. Louise tries to get past this foible, as he is in a recovery program, but isn't able to because he insists on revealing his crime to everyone he meets as though it was part of his name.
As stated before, this show is not Friends. Its a dirty, sexually driven show that stops just short of soft-core porn at times, and has more swearing than most Prime Time cable shows. What it is not is a family show; what it is, is a great, adult dramedy that will keep you hooked until the very end , despite most of the characters' lack or moral center—or maybe, because of it. In any case the ride is no less exciting and fulfilling---provided you're an adult with a liberally loose set of morals, or, better yet, none at all.