Outnumbered Review: One Too Many?

April 7, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

OUTNUMBERED: Thursday 8th April, BBC1, 9.30pm ALERT ME

It’s won a raft of awards and has become a bit of a cult favourite so we weren’t surprised when the BBC brought Outnumbered back for a third season.

The series kicks off with a family trip to London. Mum (Claire Skinner), dad (Hugh Dennis) and the three kids (Tyger Drew-Honey, Daniel Roche and Ramona Marquez), plus Gran (Rosalind Ayres) take in the sights on an open top bus tour, visit a gallery and tour HMS Belfast.

While the show serves as an excellent ode to parenting, like most episodes, nothing much really happens and the situations merely serve as a platforms for the children to show up their elders. Having said that, Outnumbered does capture the chaos of family life without the mandatory ‘everybody hug and smile’ final scene of shows like My Family and the truly shocking Life Of Riley. It has no see-them-coming punchlines and there isn’t a laughter track. There’s not even a theme tune.

The problem is that the programme relies almost solely on the ‘kids say the funniest things’ vein of comedy. It can’t help but raise a smile now and then but there’s not much more to it then that.

The precocious younger two come out with some mildly amusing lines but ultimately get pretty annoying and when every scene ends with a ‘Kids ay, who’d have ‘em?’ look from mum and dad, you think what a cock-up of parenting they’re making. The little brats need a good telling-off but they never get one.

The children never give their parents anything back, there are no tender moments and they seem devoid of love. They only communicate in never-ending arguments of naïve logic making them seem robotic and cold. That’s not to take anything away from the young actors who are genuinely good and should probably be given even more credit then they currently get for their comic timing and acting. They’re not just repeating the script they’re acting it and ad-libbing along the way too.

Unfortunately the programme-makers over exploit the kids’ skills with little effort of their own, meaning the show turns out very similar each time. Has it got the shelf life for a whole new series? Fans will be pleased to hear it’s just more of the same but many will be tired of it by now.

Anna says:

This is rubbish. The whole idea of ‘Outnumbered’ is that it’s a comedy, it is an exaggerated view of family life. The programme is centred around the children, they are the real stars of the show.
Outnumbered does have ‘the shelf life for another season.’ Check the viewing totals if you don’t believe me. And as for three series overdoing it, how many series has Big Brother had by now? (Not that I’m commending Big Brother, I think it is awful.) The beauty of Outnumbered is that it is almost entirely improvised, and these people who criticise it for being too middle class are talking absolute trash. Programmes like Eastenders and Wife Swap are frightfully lower class. Why shouldn’t there be a middle class programme just to restore the faith that there are people in Britain who aren’t a) Northern, b) Pregnant at a young age and c) can say the letter ‘t’ in a word like ‘butter’?