HIM & HER (BBC) “The Birthday” Review

Him & Her

HIM & HERs second episode, ‘The Birthday’ revolves around Steve being given presents and pestered to go down to the pub. But Steve has the flu and is convinced that he needs to stay in bed and recuperate. Becky looks less than convinced, but is willing to play along as long as they can have sex. Steve doesn’t want to have sex, he wants to sit and watch Inspector Morse. This should be an indicator of how ill Steve is, shouldn’t it?

Maybe not. The whole episode plants objects that lead up to an hilarious ending. Steve’s mom visits to give him his presents before she goes off to gatecrash an engagement party. The loving son, Steve pretends to like her presents – which includes a guide to London, some hand cream, a bottle of Ouzo, and a badger calendar.

Then comes Dan, the creepy neighbour, comes by to give Steve an inflatable chair (which he’s banished to the kitchen to blow up) and the password to an Asian porn site.

The final visit is by Paul, Laura, and her workmate Shelly. Paul’s present is a pair of headphones and a birthday badge. After dutifully pinning on the badge and telling them all that no, he won’t be coming out with them, the threesome – and Becky – leave, Dan following suit soon after. An inflatable chair, headphones, hand cream, and access to an Asian porn site: Steve’s all set for a night of fun.

On cue, Becky and co let themselves back in and catch him, uh, red-handed.

I could like Him & Her quite easily, but there’s just one thing putting me off. The show keeps backing up genuinely funny mundanity with gross out moments. Do we really need to see Becky picking Steve’s nose, Steve’s mom waiting for the smell of dog crap on her shoes to become evident, or Steve eating chocolate while peeing – and then following the ten second rule when a piece falls on the bathroom floor? I could be in the minority, but I vote no.

The humor for me came in the little every day things. Poor weird Dan being sent off to sit along in the kitchen while everyone said ‘Thanks, Dan!’ was both hilarious and sad. I loved Steve’s enthusiasm over this mother’s presents, and the ensuing amusing between Steve and Becky over them. And, as someone who has watched more episodes of Inspector Morse than I care to remember, the arguments over who knew his given name (‘Endeavour’) first was a great through-line.

I was a little unsure about the Asian porn site setup, especially with Dan emphasising that ‘she’ll do anything’, but the payoff at the end with Steve getting caught was great. As was Becky’s derision over Paul’s comments about their gay friend, a nice little moment that showed just how stupid some off-the-cuff comments can be.

Him & Her has potential, but as long as I have to push aside gross out jokes to find it, my patience is tested.