Flowers: The incredible beauty of sadness by Will Sharpe

Julian Barratt, Olivia Colman, Daniel Rigby and Sophie Di Martino in FLOWERS

Julian Barratt, Olivia Colman, Daniel Rigby and Sophie Di Martino in FLOWERS

In two six episode seasons, Will Sharpe takes us down the deep, troubled, hilarious, poignant and surreal rabbit hole of mental illness and unbearable depression. This series is no clinical study or ham-handed Hollywood cliché on the topics. It is the most familiar, truthful and whimsical examination of the mental issues that plague so many human beings I have ever seen dramatized.

Following a failed suicide attempt and the accidental death of the family matriarch (who only recognizes every other person in her presence as “James the plumber”), the series chronicles the story of one family’s struggle to hold things together in the midst of insurmountable emotional and mental disorder. What sets this show apart from so many others is the way writer / director Will Sharpe infuses the comic, the tragic, the absurd and the truthful into every episode.

Sharpe’s vision is completely original. He calls the show a “sitcom”, but it is really a saga that follows the family through hilarity and depths to a kind of sad redemption that is utterly unique in tone and quality.

Set in a rural English country cottage near mystic woods, small towns and evocative landscapes, the show creates a micro-world for the Flowers family but always manages to touch on the commonality of universal human experience.

Sharpe, a brilliant actor in his own right, casts himself as a Japanese illustrator employed by Morris, the patriarch. His fish-out-of-water position in rural England allows a kind of rare observation and charming empathy with the Flowers family that is captivating and delightful. Olivia Colman continues to offer us brilliance (see THE FAVOURITE) in her role as the mother.

Mental illness and incurable depression are not the usual stuff of comedy, but Will Sharpe’s deft writing and brilliant direction holds you and invests you in the Flowers family until the series ends, and you find yourself wanting more of these lovable, intolerable, ridiculous and broken misfits.