Regio Dissimilitudinis

Motherland is a good thing of its kind, the kind of thing it is being BBC comedy about how the social lives of a very specific subset of the white middle class are an ever-deepening hell of their own making. Its sustaining tropes are failures of the imagination: the failure to imagine a single mother with a Northern accent as anything other than an imperviously sardonic provider of comic relief, the failure to imagine a male caregiver as anything other than toe-curlingly immature and wet (what sort of man, indeed, would willingly spend time around small children?). I enjoy it (mainly for Diane Morgan) and resent it at the same time: for its wilful narrowness, its refusal to consider it even worthy of remark that its characters come from big houses and budgets*, or that the fundamental generator of incident and plot is their ceaselessly mutually reinforced anxiety over social standing. It may seem odd to complain of a British sitcom that its characters pour tireless energy into making each other miserable – no Steptoe, no Hancock, etc, without this central dynamic – but Motherland’s claim to be “about” the frustrations and impasses of working motherhood is about as plausible as the claim that Fawlty Towers is about the challenges of running a small hotel.

  • oh yes