Here’s my first review of Vicious starting with the season two premiere “Sister.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.
Stories belong to the young folks. Think about popular movies, TV shows, and books. The protagonist of any of these stories is most likely to be young (a relative term, I know, but we’ll say this means younger than “middle-aged.”) And the protagonist’s friends are probably all young as well. Sure, there may be one or two old folks running around, but they’re hardly ever the ones in important roles. So what I’m trying to say is that this is the reason I love Vicious. Because it’s a story about old people, something we don’t often get to see much focus on. The season two premiere showed that it’s still holding on to the core of the show while also expanding the focus of its universe.
To be honest, I’ve seen a few negative reviews of season one. The biggest complaint was about the show’s reliance of gay stereotypes. Both Freddie and Stuart are flamboyant in a way that’s not too overstated (usually), but still seem a bit like stereotypical gay characters of the past. But that’s just it. They are from the past. They grew up in a different time than the younger generation did, so their way of life might be different. So what if Freddie and Stuart are a pair of queens? The humor in Vicious come from their age and their long life together, not their sexual orientation. Vicious is fun because the protagonists have different perspectives on life now that they’d lived so much of it already. And Ash is there to be the outside viewpoint, the learner.
“Sister” was a good premiere episode because it took the focus from our main couple and extended it to the others as well. Sure, Freddie and Stuart have their own problem (Stuart feels like a servant) but the plot is based on Violet’s problem (her sister) and Ash’s new storyline (his girlfriend). The whole episode is classic sitcom shenanigans but it actually works. Everything is based on lies and it’s predictable, but it’s still entertaining. We know the characters well enough now that it’s funny to see Freddie pretend to be the butler, Violet to immediately call her sister out on lies while maintaining her own, and Ash to just play along with all the craziness.
It works, I think, because Vicious is sometimes not-so-subtle parody. Each character is a little bit larger than life. Penelope is a little too senile, Violet’s a little too forceful, Freddie and Stuart are a little too condescending, and if Mason was a real person, he’d have ditched these people a long time ago. But the fun thing about parody is to present different ideas and personalities in this over-the-top fashion in order to get a better look at it. It’s like putting your words into large print in order to say HEY LOOK AT ME! CONSIDER THIS! Vicious pulls this off a lot.
So let me return to my point about expanding the focus. It shows a bit of interesting story development that everyone chooses to help Violet deceive her sister even though that draws attention away from Freddie and Stuart. The focus is still on them, of course. That whole servant argument is the basis of the whole episode, but it’s hidden under the surface problem of Violet’s sister. This is a bit more complex than what we got in season one which was very obviously straightforward in its “moral of the day” sort of thing. As the world of this sitcom continues to stretch out, I hope things continue to grow and become more complicated.
- This was a bit more rambly than expected but I’ve never had the opportunity to talk about Vicious before and this is the season premiere. Future reviews will be more episode based, I promise.
- As someone who routinely hangs out with people 40+ years older than me, I always relate well to Ash. I thought it was cute how he wanted to introduce Jess (or Jessica) to them first.
- LOL at Freddie making up a whole backstory for his butler character.
- Stuart’s “straight man” impression looks like a hilariously bad John Wayne impression.
- The one thing I always dislike is Violet hitting on Ash because it’s still hella creepy how forceful she is.
- Mason: “I do have a life outside of you.” Freddie: “No you don’t.” LOL meta-humor
- Did Iwan Rheon really do that backflip? If so, kudos to him!
- Violet: “I don’t want you to think me uncouth.” Stuart: You just pulled a bottle of vodka out of your bag.”
- Penelope is my favorite because that’ll be me in 50 years.
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts (vicious or otherwise) in the comments!