To many of you, I’m sure Friday Night Dinner is already a beloved modern classic. It was to my friends’ upmost surprise when I recently announced that I had never watched the programme before. Previously, when I had heard other people discussing it, I had ignorantly dismissed it as being just another Come Dine With Me style cooking show. When I finally got round to giving it a watch, I was undoubtedly stunned to find it was quite the opposite of the tame cooking show I had been imagining. Within a few minutes, I found myself close to tears as a result of laughing so much. Instantly, I felt accustomed to the characters and to the setting.
The premise is simple. A family of four gather together every Friday evening to have dinner. There are certain characteristics that become familiar in each episode, like the appearance of the strange neighbour Jim and his dog, who he also happens to be afraid of. There’s also the continuous pranks of the sons, Adam and Jonny, interwoven within the mayhem of the show.
I think the main magic of this show, is the feeling of familiarity it produces in its viewers. It’s a British sitcom in its simplest form. It’s by no means distracted by glamour, or ambitious jokes and it does not hide away from its repetition. The episodes are largely simple plots with eccentric characters, which all are oddly familiar to the viewers. Personalities like Jackie, for instance, behave very ‘Britishly’ in her interactions, such as putting up with their neighbour, Jim, despite being deeply irritated by his behaviour.
In a similar way to Gavin & Stacey, Outnumbered, Miranda and The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner accurately presents the nature of British families, and the common matters of conflict that seem to be shared by the nation. The American remakes of these shows never succeed in translating these interactions, for the charm is in the sarcastic and dry humour that is admired by Brits. Unfortunately, the USA adaption of Friday Night Dinner did not proceed beyond the pilot. In the usual style of British sitcoms, there were only five seasons made of Friday Night Dinner, with just 31 episodes in total. The series concluded last June, after being aired for seven years.
With each episode lasting just 20 minutes, Friday Night Dinner makes for the perfect light relief. It is easy watching, which does not require heavy thinking or concentration, which is welcomed in the dark evenings after long days spent at the library and trying to stay switched on in lectures. The repetition of certain components throughout the different episodes makes for a sense of expectation. There is almost a subconscious checklist created of certain events, such as the appearance of Jim, the discussion of FEMALES, Martin drawing the comparison of the dinner to be like “squirrel” and many more. Whilst this repetition may seem to be a formula for the show in theory, the reality works greatly for comic effect.
For those of you that are yet to be introduced to this peculiar and hilarious sitcom, I would strongly recommend giving Friday Night Dinner a go. It could easily be watched as a Netflix marathon, or else is great to dip into as I have been doing in between assignments.