For today’s Tell All Tuesday post, I’m making a confession about one of my favorite TV shows. I absolutely adore Vicious. Who wouldn’t, with a stellar cast like Ian McKellan, Derek Jacobi, Frances de la Tour, and Iwan Rheon? Season One was absolutely delicious. That hasn’t changed—much.
Hear me out. I’m all for growth and change. When I first saw some of the teasers for the current season, and heard Gary Janetti’s remarks on some of the fresh ideas for the show, I was all for it. I couldn’t wait for the episode where Stuart and Freddy join a gym. The ballroom dance episode was priceless. So I agree that getting them out of their flat and into the world is a good change for the show.
But the shift in the writing style? Not so much. The first thing I noticed was a plethora of bleeped curse words in the script. I’m not a prude. I know people curse, and a well-placed expletive can carry a lot of weight in both comedy and drama. One of the reasons I love British film and television, though, is because of the classic wit found therein. In other words, the Brits have this marvelous way of shredding you to smithereens with barely the touch of a butterfly, and nary a four-letter word. Season One of Vicious accomplished this perfectly. It was hilarious, and the razor sharp wit was all that was necessary between the characters. So why this sudden reliance on foul language? Just go back to letting Sir Ian and Sir Derek do what they do best, I say. We don’t need all the bleeps. They are distracting at best, and don’t add to the comedy.
The other thing I started to notice was an increased use of American terms in the show. For instance in last Sunday’s episode, Stuart said that he thought Violet and Ash had screwed. Shouldn’t that be “shagged?” And in the episode at the gym, Freddy lets loose with a “bitch, please!” Might as well dish up some apple pie with high tea instead of scones and cucumber sandwiches. Again, when I watch British film and television, I expect them to BE British.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out while watching Season One that Mr. Janetti is American. I thought “wow, this guy really knows his British comedy.” But Season Two feels like it is veering a bit too far of course. Change is great, but so is sticking with something that works—because it works for a reason.
I love the characters and the actors enough to keep tuning in, and I still give it a thumbs up and can enthusiastically recommend it to others. I just hope Vicious doesn’t become an American sitcom set in London.
Vicious airs Sunday nights at 10 pm on PBS. Check your local listings.