She may be ‘out of her mind’… but aren’t we all?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Strong woman-fronted comedies have never been more popular, due to the immense success of Fleabag, Game Face, This Way Up, Chewing Gum, and many others. However, Sara Pascoe’s take on this fashionable format is more of a psychedelic Ted Talk about human relationships than your classic sit-com. 

Do not let that description put you off. Granted, Out of Her Mind (BBC Two) does get off to a shaky start due to its rather odd structure. However, once you get over the shock of seeing  Pascoe rollerblade in a garishly 80s outfit whilst explaining the ins-and-out of the human condition, you will come to realise that the six-part series is intelligently moving. 

Sara Pascoe plays a needy, socially awkward version of herself, who is still, 15 years later, grieving the loss of a long-term relationship with her mother’s Zumba instructor. Her issues with love and monogamy seem to stem from this betrayal, her complicated relationships with her fitness obsessed mother (Juliet Stevenson) and vain sister (Fiona Button) as well as her non-existent relationship with her estranged father (Adrian Edmondson). All of her past traumas resurface following her sister’s engagement announcement. Thus, leaving Pascoe to try and make sense of it all.

Pascoe cleverly breaks the fourth wall by talking to the camera, following the footsteps of her fellow funny women Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Michaela Coel. She graciously reminds the audience that this is in fact her show and thus she is able to share her opinions on what has just happened in the main plot. These moments are often followed by Pascoe in more interesting outfits divulging the scientific explanation behind human emotions with the help of the odd animation. 

To a certain extent, the sitcom functions as a visual summary of the topics discussed by Pascoe in her books, Animal, and Sex, Power, Money, including emotional attachment and why humans fail at monogamy. Thus, what on the surface appears to be just another sitcom, is actually a biological explanation behind our actions in an attempt to make the protagonist less attuned to “the exquisite pain and rejection” that love brings.

Although the audience is lucky enough to hear Pascoe’s eloquently presented arguments laden with scientific fact, the other characters are often subjected to unarticulated responses like “Your relationship is shit!” These comments do not go down too well within her inner circle, leaving Pascoe feeling misunderstood and confused about her conflicts. Thus, her character is presented as the omniscient teacher and inept student as she learns to understand the world and the people around her, as we all try to do on a daily basis.    

Image: Raph_PH via Wikimedia Commons