The Book Group

Has anyone seen this? I found it in the Drama section of 4oD when I was down in Belfast for my moving week and I was sick of the IT Crowd. It’s two six part series’ and it’s amazing. It’s possibly in the so-bad-it’s-good category but it’s laugh out loud funny and it’s based around a book group! What’s not to like?

I found this really great summary from DVD Outsider

Central to the narrative (though not in the traditional sense a main character) is Clare, an American alone in Glasgow who has the idea of starting a book group in order to meet like-minded people. To her surprise and dismay, her advertisement is answered not by the hoped-for intellectuals, but quiet, handsome, wheelchair-bound Kenny, football obsessed Rab, Scottish, Dutch and Swedish football wives Janice, Fist and Dirka, and good-looking but opinionated young Barney. Only Barney meets her expectations, and it is perhaps appropriate that he is every bit as insufferable as she. Both are self-obsessed: Clare is wallowing in self-pity and has a condescending attitude to just about everybody, while Barney is a smugly pretentious posh boy who believes he is intellectually superior to most of the human race. Actually connecting with the football wives on any level is initially tricky, and it is uncertain whether Rab has ever even read a book, his motives for even attending the group being at first strangely uncertain. The only really sympathetic character in the first episode is Kenny, a genuinely nice guy who still manages to kick against the expected with his almost vicious reaction to an aggressive come-on in episode 2, and there’s always that nagging concern that we’re sympathising with him because he’s the one in the wheelchair. Despite its restrictive setting, sometimes wincingly irritating character details and leaning towards the dramatic, the first episode somehow grabs, through a combination of intrigue, decent writing, nicely judged performances and oddball character details. 

It was aired in 2002-2003. Anne Dudek was Amber (a.k.a Cut-throat B*tch) in House M.D- she is the main character of sorts, but everyone gets equal screen time. ‘Uneducated’, likeable Rab – I recognised him as Christina from Ugly Betty’s husband Stuart- seems to get the most laughs, coming out with brilliant quips such as “Good on ye big lad!” when Kenny informs the group he has actually started writing his own book. The first episode is claustrophobic and uncomfortable, we are almost in Claire’s tiny flat as the members of the book group all meet for the first time. The footballer’s wives characters are immediately off-putting, but they, like all the other characters slowly reel us in and we become interested in the goings on of their everyday lives and the books they read. There is some weird, out-there stuff that happens but it all keeps you coming back for more, Claire and Kenny are both writing books and we get sucked into the world of their stories, which are quite surreal at times.

It’s addictive, Mickey and myself had to rush to get ready for a wedding because we had to watch just one more episode… It’s well worth a watch!


Author: Fiona

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