Very British Problems – Very Funny!

Very British Problems

As I stated in my article last week, BrainDead – Mindless Summer Entertainment!, this summer I am on the lookout for funny shows to help balance the rest of my responsibilities. At the same time, I have expanding my viewing options by looking into programs from abroad. I have recently run across the perfect mix of the two in Very British Problems.

The show is available on Acorn TV, acorn.tv, a subscription streaming service. The first season premiered there on March 28, 2016 and the second season premiered on June 27, 2016.

Very British Problems is based on the Twitter feed of the same name created by Rob Temple, which has over a million followers. He consults on the TV program. There are also books and t-shirts due to the popularity of the Twitter feed.

The format of the show has British (and a couple non-British, but living in Britain) celebrities, from comedians to dramatic actors to journalists, talk about issues of daily life deemed unique to British people. The problems are presented as being due to British tradition or culture. Julie Walters, who played Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, narrates. Some of the celebrities featured are James Corden, Nigel Havers, Ruth Jones, Stephen Mangan, Jonathan Ross, David Tennant, and Catherine Tate.

So far, there are two seasons of this show. Each has three episodes, and then there was a Christmas special between the two seasons, bringing the total number of episodes to seven. The Christmas special is generally deemed to be episode zero of season two. Each show has a theme running through it that then drives which type of problems are discussed.

I must observe that despite being presented as uniquely British, I can personally relate to some of the problems they discuss, and I am willing to bet many of you can too. I think being able to relate to the problems makes the episodes even more interesting as you then have a personal stake in them.

But, what I find most interesting about this show, aside from the fact it had me laughing a lot, is that it gives me some insight into British culture and lifestyle. I enjoy learning about other people and countries, and this is a humorous way to do that! Win-win! And yes, I understand this program stereotypes British people, but I think having a sense of humor about quirks or possible quirks of your culture is important.

First Season Episodes
 

James Corden - Very British Problems

Other People

This episode talks about the rules of small talk, the hidden meanings in what people say, and difficulties in understanding what other people mean or are actually saying.

Out and About

This episode looks at the anxiety of being out in public and dealing with perceived social pressures such as checking out at the grocery store. Workplace problems are also discussed such as being the person responsible for fetching tea for everyone. And then there is queuing. According to this program, the British have a very high tolerance for standing in lines and form a queue at the drop of a hat.

Feelings and Emotions

Who knew that sports plays a secret but important role in British society? This episode talks about the usefulness of sports when it comes to expressing emotions, since the British seem to have trouble communicating their feelings under normal circumstances, preferring to keep everything bottled up inside. The difficulty of receiving a compliment is also discussed. Then there is the whole discussion of tutting; apparently the primary way British people express displeasure.

Second Season Episodes
 

David Tennant - Very British Problems

At Christmas

Of all the episodes, the second season contains my two favorites. At Christmas, my second favorite, looks at all of the quirks of British society when it comes to celebrating Christmas. This episode had my son and me laughing as they discussed the perils of gift giving and the importance of adherence to a schedule for the day.

At School

I found this episode fascinating since it helped me understand the British system of schooling. I had already known that public and private schools in Britain have the opposite meaning from what they have in the US, but had not realized that a very large percentage of schools there require uniforms. Another interesting thing is that the schools in Britain still put on a Christmas pageant, something that is gone from all the public schools in my area of the US. An added bonus is hearing David Tennant discuss his early love life failure.

With Friends

Apparently Brits do not have many close friends, at least according to this program. In this episode, they talk about everything from arranging a group outing and all the difficulties inherent in that activity, to buying rounds at the pub.

On Holiday

This is my most favorite episode of all. On Holiday covers all of the anxiety felt by British people when they go on vacation, from the moment they leave their houses to the moment they return home, is detailed and analyzed. I spent most of the episode laughing!

 

If you are looking for something light and funny to watch this summer, I highly recommend Very British Problems. With only seven episodes, it does not take long to view. If you do watch it, please let me know what you think in the comments section below! I love hearing your opinions.