Raised by Wolves, Channel 4 – read it on Varsity here.
Caitlin Moran clearly knows her stuff when it comes to television: her TV reviews for The Times were essential Saturday morning reading. So how did she and her sister, Caroline, fare when it came to her first foray onto the other side of the fourth wall?
Raised By Wolves is, according to Moran, a modern-day reimagining of her upbringing on a Wolverhampton council estate. At the start of the episode, Pixie Lott’s ‘Boys and Girls’ plays whilst a crowd of school-uniformed teenagers traipse homeward. It could be the beginning of Waterloo Road, until the camera follows a Fruit Shoot bottle hurled by a boy over a hedge and into the scruffy front garden of our home-schooled protagonists. Germaine (based on Caitlin) is a gothic, loud-mouthed teenager, who throughout the episode (a pilot for Channel 4) muses on a range of topics from cheese to vaginas whilst her sister, the studious Aretha (inspired by Caroline), sighs and rolls her eyes in the background and goes back to reading Ted Hughes.
Whilst many viewers took advantage of the programme’s title to claim they were ‘howling with laughter’ throughout, I found Raised By Wolves more intriguing than outright hilarious – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s certainly an underexplored concept – as noted by Moran, intellectual working class families don’t generally get a lot of airtime – so this aspect is certainly welcome. The script is sharp, stuffed full of cultural references, and often very witty. (‘Sisterly trust,’ says Germaine to Aretha, trying to avoid being locked in the garden shed. ‘No – bigger than that. Trusthouse Forte. The National Trust.’ At one point, their grandfather references ‘AA Gill’s Winnie the Pooh’.) Still, it didn’t raise as many laughs as might have been expected.
Helen Monks is entertaining as Germaine, but her delivery sometimes feels a little too scripted and not entirely spontaneous. Alexa Davies was convincing as Aretha, although we learnt little about the character aside from her views on the importance of education. Most entertaining was Della (Rebekah Staton), Germaine and Aretha’s mum, whose idea of good parenting is smoking out of the window. She spent a lot of the episode predicting the breakdown of society, and employing her curse of choice – ‘fucking David Cameron’ – with gusto.
So whilst I wasn’t laughing all the way through, I did enjoy Raised By Wolves, and I’d be prepared to give it another chance if Channel 4 goes ahead and commissions a full series. Besides, TV needs more frank jokes about vaginas. And if anyone can provide that, it’s Moran.