Family-oriented sitcoms often play to familiar tropes and well-worn mannerisms; neurotic parents, smart kids, and awkward neighbours. Channel 4's latest comedy, Friday Night Dinner (Friday, 10pm), is no exception. Like Simon Amstell's Grandma's House it's relatable because it's loosely based on the experiences of its creator Robert Popper (Green Wing, The Inbetweeners).
Explaining this concept to TV.com, Popper says: "my dad, growing up, never used to wear a top in the house so poor [Paul] Ritter who plays the dad generally doesn't either". Every family member has their own quirky foible: mum Jackie (Tamsin Greig) expects everything to be perfect; Jonny (Tom Rosenthal) plays constant childish jokes; and Adam (Simon Bird) is easily sucked into the mayhem.
The similarities between Simon Bird’s Adam and his well-known Inbetweeners character, Will, are huge: they’re both smart, well-meaning, middle class and sarcastic. Thankfully, these are characteristics that Bird plays well, and they're complemented in Friday Night Dinner by more appealing mannerisms. Don't expect an Inbetweeners reunion though: keen to dispel further comparisons, Popper told TV.com he purposefully avoided casting any of Bird’s past co-stars.
Friday Night Dinner nicely compliments Channel 4's existing comedy servings with its awkward sense of humour and sincerity. Despite being a family sitcom the series still contains adult humour; Mark Heap’s role as the pervert neighbour makes sure of this. Unfortunately, the family-friendly jokes are the most predictable--a price often paid by relatable shows--and this can leave an occasional sour aftertaste. Don't let that put you off though, it's still a tasty treat.