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Apr 28, 2016
Edie and Pats: Ab Fab and The Decider on the ronnie re
When we talk about streaming culture, we’re usually enthusing about what’s new, but one of the best things about streaming is how it’s made old and obscure cult hits available to a new generation. Presenting Cult Corner: your weekly look into hidden gems and long-lost curiosities that you can find on streaming.
This morning the first international trailer for the Absolutely Fabulous film hit the internet. The film looks to reunite the classic British sitcom’s original cast in yet another caper full of drinking, dirty language, and cameos from British celebrities. One big American celebrity, though, was also along for the ride: Jon Hamm.
Which might beg the question: Why is Don Draper slumming it in this silly English movie? Well, the answer is he’s not slumming it at all! He’s just continuing his streak of working with brilliant female comedians.
American comedy nerds have known about Absolutely Fabulous for decades. The hit British series made its way over to Comedy Central’s slate in the ’90s and influenced a generation of female comics and alternative comedy heroes.Absolutely Fabulous seemed strange to American viewers. Not only was it packed with references to European fashion, British B-listers, and a niche English culture, but it also featured very few men. The main cast was all-female and these characters reveled in their lousy behavior and cruel barbs towards each other. For context, Absolutely Fabulous came out in a time when it was nearly impossible for American women to do much of anything in comedy. This was a time before Melissa McCarthy ruled the box office. It was an age beforeBridesmaids. Heck, it was a world before Tina Fey took over as head writer onSaturday Night Live.
Absolutely Fabulous first debuted on British television in 1992. It was inspired by a sketch that Jennifer Saunders and her comedy partner Dawn French made in 1990, but Saunders wound up enlisting model-turned-actress Joanna Lumleyfor the series. Saunders played Edina “Edie” Monsoon, a vainglorious fashion designer whose life never seems to be quite as chic as she would like. Lumley played Edie’s best friend and partner in crime, Patsy Stone, a heavy-drinking, sex-obsessed fashion magazine editor. Together the two were constantly in pursuit of a fabulous lifestyle, and the duo remained stubbornly unaware that they were hot messes. Julia Sawalha rounded out the lead cast as Edie’s nerdy and disapproving daughter Saffron (who was essentially Hermione Granger before Hermione Granger was a thing).
The series is a bizarre blend of scathing satire, uproarious slapstick, and politically incorrect shock humor. It’s also silly and positively delightful. Did I mention it was inspiring? The show was revolutionary in its depiction of women and its influence can be felt in the work of Broad City, Difficult People,and Tina Fey & Amy Poehler. Absolutely Fabulous was not only unafraid to display women at their worst, but it was also obsessed with pop culture snark in a time before twitter. This intrepid spirit has defined the show from the beginning and keeps compelling Saunders to resurrect it again and again.
So, it’s not weird at all that Jon Hamm would show up in the Absolutely Fabulousfilm. In fact, it makes total sense. He’s made a point of showing up in the works run by fierce female comedy talent in the past. This is just him claiming down his comedy nerd brass ring.
The Absolutely Fabulous movie debuts in the United States on July 22.
If you want to get hip to Patsy and Edina, it’s not too late! The original series is available to stream on Hulu.