Psychobitches is one of those TV gems that you rarely come across on mainstream television, and when you do stumble across it; you secretly enjoy the fact that it’s not too widely known. Until the upcoming second series, the show has had a distinctly low-key promotion, and when coupled with the fact that Sky insists on spelling the show’s title with asterisks, and since they relegate it to Sky Arts with the “Playhouse Presents” title preceding it; it has probably turned off more viewers than it’s attracted.
Psychobitches was originally a single show within the 2012 Sky Arts series “Playhouse Presents”, then last year five more shows were added to the second series of Playhouse to form the first series of the show. For the second series, the show has finally become the stand-alone product it deserves to be, and if it sticks to the premise and tone of the previous series, it should be an enjoyable viewing.
If you haven’t watched it before, Psychobitches is basically a sketch show whereby famous women throughout history (played by some of the nation’s best comedians) are impersonated within the setting of a therapy session. The show isn’t as surreal as it sounds, rather it’s like watching comedic impressions in a monologue-esque sketch show format. The segments are brought together by the constant of the show; the Therapist played by Rebecca Front who does a great job of being the calm and sedate Therapist amongst all the caricatured and parodied characters.
The show features all the comedy actors you’d expect from a contemporary British TV Show; Selina Griffiths is always strict and stern, which is particularly great when playing one of the Brontës alongside Katy Brand and the understated Sarah Solemani. Julia Davis always performs with her trademark wry smile, perfect for people like Joy Adamson and there’s also the amazing Frances Barber playing the scary Bette Davis. The show also features the underrated yet brilliant Michelle Gomez as Mary, Queen Of Scots, but the stand-out of the show is without a doubt Samantha Spiro who in my opinion is one of the best comedy actors of today. If you thought she played the funniest character is “Grandma’s House”, you should check out her laugh-out-loud performances of Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Jackie Kennedy (blended with Columbo) in series one.
Jeremy Dyson who in the past has brought us “The League Of Gentlemen”, “Funland” and who has also worked on “Dead Boss” and the great “Grandma’s House”, serves as co-writer and Director on Psychobitches. As Director, he brilliantly brings all the elements together without making them feel repetitive (although the short rendition of the theme between sketches can get annoying). Dyson as Director has been joined by fellow League Of Gentlemen Reece Shearsmith and Mark Gatiss in the previous series, and when watching their segments (Reece’s in particular playing a splendid Mother Shipton) it felt more like something from The League Of Gentlemen than anything they’ve done since the end of their classic show.
Having just watched the first show of the second series, I can say the tone of the show thankfully hasn’t changed. There are some great new characters such as Reece Shearsmith and Kathy Burke playing the drunken duo of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother, there is Sharon Horgan playing Tammy Wynette, Frances Barber playing Elizabeth I, and Michelle Gomez playing an amazingly sinister Margaret Thatcher. The ensemble is joined by some new faces including Seb Cardinal as Janis Joplin and the always funny yet underrated Morgana Robinson (who I hope makes another series of The Morgana Show) playing a hilarious version of Anna-Nicole Smith. If the rest of the second series is anything like the first show, expect some laugh-out-loud comedy.
If you like comedy, sketch shows, and impressions, go watch Psychobitches. The second series airs tonight at 9:00pm and 9:30pm on Sky Arts 1 and series one is available on Sky’s On Demand service.
A Great Impression.