'Such Brave Girls' is Such Brave Television

Kat Sadler as Josie, Lizzie Davidson as Billie, and Louise Brealey as Deb wave goodbye in 'Such Brave Girls'

Kat Sadler as Josie, Lizzie Davidson as Billie, and Louise Brealey as Deb in 'Such Brave Girls'


There are shows that are an acquired taste. And then there’s Such Brave Girls. The six-episode comedy, which debuts on Hulu, is so jarring that there can be no middle ground. Either you will delight in the show’s cringy, envelope-pushing comedy, or you will be horrified.

The series, created and written by comedian Kat Sadler, follows twentysomething Josie (Sadler), her sister Billie (Sadler’s real-life sister Lizzie Davidson), and their mother Deb (Louise Brealey). The trio wallow in their desperate dysfunction. They seemingly have no female friends or other family. Their world is so insular that their seriously impaired approach to, well, everything, consistently ricochets among them. 

The defining moment in their life occurred ten years ago when Deb’s husband/Josie and Billie’s father ran out to get tea bags at the store and never returned. The sudden abandonment did a number on the women. Josie and Billie cling to the hope that their father will return. “They do move stuff around in that shop a lot, though,” Billie says as if their dad could still be at the store trying to find just the right tea bags. 

Josie suffers from low self-esteem and depression. Billie is obsessed with a man who wants nothing to do with her. Deb, whose finances are a wreck, is willing herself into a relationship with a man she can barely tolerate because she thinks he could be the family’s “Willy Wonka.”

Kat Sadler as Josie, Lizzie Davidson as Billie stare in horror at something under the bed in 'Such Brave Girls'

Kat Sadler as Josie, Lizzie Davidson as Billie in 'Such Brave Girls'


A lot of your enjoyment of the show will hinge on your ability to tolerate jokes, so many jokes, about suicide. “I’m not obsessed. I just can’t live without him,” Billie says about her quasi-boyfriend Nicky (Sam Buchanan). “If he doesn’t take me back, I will kill myself.” Deb is not a believer in any kind of therapy or medication, often berating Josie for being sad. “Oh God, you’re not going to have another one of your bloody episodes, are you,” Deb says to her.  

Viewers will also have to make peace with Deb’s inherent hatred of Josie. “Getting pregnant with Josie was the worst mistake of my life,” “You look like the before picture in a makeover show,” and “If I can give you one thing, Josie, it’s the gift of not going after your dreams” are just a few of her bon mots lobbied at her least favorite daughter.

The men in their lives are equally pathetic. In addition to Nick, who takes being a loser boyfriend to a whole other level, there’s Deb’s sad and clueless boyfriend Dev (Paul Bazely) and Josie’s boyfriend Seb (Freddie Meredith), who is obsessed with Josie and ignores every possible warning sign that she is, in fact, just not that into him. “When she dies, I’ll make sure to kill myself,” he says. 

Often, it’s hard to know if you are laughing with the women, laughing at them, or if you are laughing at all. The humor is often off-putting. But there are recurring charming gags, such as Billie continually mispronouncing words. She calls couscous “cuckoo” and rum and coke “Roman coke,” which are sweetly amusing. 

Kat Sadler as Josie peering over the bar in 'Such Brave Girls'

Kat Sadler as Josie in 'Such Brave Girls'


Sadler, who has been very open about her own mental health struggles, including her suicide attempts, has said that much of the show comes from her “lived-in experience.” The ability to find humor in pain is a gift. The onscreen rapport between the three women is terrific, and the fierce love/hate dynamic between the real-life siblings is palpably relatable.

Sadler’s performance has an undercurrent that is so loveable that you can’t help but root for her. “I met the love of my life tonight . . . What should I do? Probably just leave it, right?” she asks her sister after meeting someone she’s instantly attracted to. So damaged are these women that normal signs of affection, like a father hugging his daughter goodnight, is viewed as deviant. 

Comparisons to the similar in tone beloved British comedies Fleabag and Catastrophe are right there for the taking, but in an odd way, the show reminded me of Seinfeld, where the characters, who behave fairly horribly, don’t grow, change, or learn anything from their repeated mistakes. Billie describes the family motto as “death, silence, hate.” That’s where they start, and that’s where they end for the most part.

The title of the show, which premiered last month on BBC 3, comes from the ever-naive Dev, who declares Josie and Billie to be “so brave.” But brave also describes a show so willing to confront mental illness and toxic dysfunction in such a non-politically correct way. The way the comedy confronts topics including eating disorders, abortion, and drug use is also brave. Such Brave Girls will leave you rattled and off-kilter. But it will also, maybe to your utter surprise, leave you wanting more.

All episodes of Such Brave Girls are streaming on Hulu.

Amy Amatangelo headshot

When Amy Amatangelo was little, her parents limited the amount of TV she could watch. You can see how well that worked out. 

In addition to Telly Visions, her work can currently be found in Paste Magazine, Emmy Magazine, and the LA Times. She also is the Treasurer of the Television Critics Association. Amy liked the ending of Lost and credits the original 90210 for her life-long devotion to teen dramas. She stays up at night wondering what happened between Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi and really thinks Carrie Bradshaw needs to join match.com so she can meet a new guy. Follow her at @AmyTVGal.

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