This Way Up, series 2 episode 1 review: the bickering sisters return but the momentum is missing
The first series of This Way Up (Channel 4) aired way back in 2019, which feels like a lifetime ago, and means I have forgotten almost everything that happened in it. That proved to be a problem when tuning into the second series of this comedy drama. Was Aine (Aisling Bea) now in a relationship with the widowed dad of the kid she’d been tutoring? Who was the man Shona (Sharon Horgan) was planning to marry, and how did that relationship with her female boss work out? I had to pause it and do a quick Google catch-up to jog my memory.
What I did remember, though, was the heart of what the show was about: the bond between two sisters, who may mock and grumble about each other but remain loving and loyal. The mockery is fun. Shona makes digs about Aine’s affair with the dad (Tobias Menzies, with less of a stiff upper lip than his role as Prince Philip in The Crown, but more awkward Englishness). Aine hoots in disbelief when she first visits Shona’s enormous new home, which she considers to be out in the sticks. “Twenty minutes on the Overground!” protests Shona. (The show feels very London-centric, which you will either love or hate.)
Theirs is a rapid-fire dialogue which is part cutting humour, part heartfelt, with an added dash of rude (in the gynaecological, rather than the impolite, sense). And there are jokes that only women will truly understand, as when Shona mentioned she was thinking of getting a fringe and Aine yelped: “What? Why? Are you OK? Are you unhappy about moving in?”
Bea’s career in stand-up is evident in the way that she delivers her lines. She and Horgan perfectly capture the sisterly dynamic. Watching it feels like falling back into the company of your most sarcastic girlfriends. Picking up exactly where series one left off felt a bit ungenerous to any new viewers, and there was little to grab attention by way of storylines. Hopefully it will gain momentum as the series goes along.