Following her critically acclaimed performances in The Night Manager and Broadchurch, Olivia Colman has prioritised dramatic roles of late. Over the coming months, she will be playing two monarchs – ascending to the throne for The Crown and The Favourite – and appearing in an adaptation of Les Misérables. But before that, Colman returns to her British-comedy roots as the frazzled Deborah, who begins separating from her suicidal husband Maurice (Julian Baratt) in season two of Flowers next week. Here’s why you should tune in for the series’ newest instalment.
Colman’s character is seriously funny
Olivia Colman started out as a comedy actress and has been honing her craft ever since joining the Cambridge Footlights in the early 1990s. Flowers showcases the performer’s impeccable comic timing: every pursed lip, every searching gaze feeds into the show’s deliciously dark mood. Whether spatting with her estranged husband over sexual fantasies (“Are you comparing me to a lasagne?!”) or stiffly welcoming her daughter’s recovering-addict lover, Deborah hands out snide quips as if they were Halloween treats. Colman’s performance is a masterclass in deadpan humour that will have you roaring with laughter.
The series gives a realistic depiction of manic depression
As a sufferer of bipolar II, Flowers’ creator Will Sharpe admits he was “writing from the heart” when scripting the programme’s latest episodes. He did, however, consult with the mental-health charity Mind, who approached him to collaborate following the show’s 2016 run. “We met after the first series because they enjoyed it,” he said. “They basically offered to help and said, ‘If you’re making a second series, please involve us.’ So we did. They gave us the confidence to go into the shoot and do our thing.” In addition to helping shape Flowers’ tone, the organisation led workshops for the cast. Sophia Di Martino – who plays the bipolar conspiracy-theorist Amy – found these sessions complemented her character research, which also consisted of watching manic episodes on YouTube. Sharpe achieves his goal of exposing “the heritability of mental illness” in Flowers’ sophomore series, where the depression of the father is overshadowed by the bipolar disorder of his daughter, Amy. The show’s visuals underline this shift, with trippy sequences in acid yellows and greens replacing the previously sombre blue and grey palette.
It redefines genre boundaries
At once a dysfunctional-family sitcom and a case study of psychological trauma, Flowers has always been difficult to categorise. Its hovering on the brink of lightness and darkness has led Sharpe to describe his creation as “a comedy with a mental illness”. “If I had to choose [between comedy and drama], I would probably err on the side of comedy because both series end on a note of hope, even if it is a complex kind of hope,” he says. “These are first and foremost comedy characters that live in a comedy world.”
This could be our last encounter with the Flowers family
When asked whether he was conceptualising season three, Sharpe admitted, “I’ve said everything I have to say for now with these characters in this world. The series ends in a way that feels like a narrative resolution, but is as complicated as I find life.” Given that classic British comedies – such as Fawlty Towers and The Office – also finished after two series, Sharpe’s decision to wrap up the show aligns him with our nation’s very best television.
‘Flowers’ returns to Channel 4 on 11th June – Via Harper’s Bazaar UK