Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. TV & Radio
6 February 2019updated 02 Sep 2021 3:40am

Channel 4’s OCD comedy Pure is warm-hearted without being sentimental

Marnie knows there’s something wrong with her. Every day she is plagued by disturbing sexual images.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

Marnie knows there’s something wrong with her. Every day she is plagued by disturbing sexual images. She imagines herself inserting a high heel into Lorraine Kelly’s vagina or licking the milk-splattered face of a barista. She repeatedly pictures herself having sex with her parents. Eventually she becomes so overwhelmed she jumps on a bus from rural Scotland to London, desperately, hoping her friends and family never find out she’s a “pervert”.

Channel 4 comedy Pure follows Marnie as she searches for a diagnosis and a life less hampered by distressing visions and the self-hatred that follows them. Is she gay, repressing her feelings until they bubble up into these explicit nightmares? A sex addict? Soon, Marnie realises she has Pure O, a purely obsessive form of OCD. We often think of OCD as compulsive hand-washing, but Marnie’s experience is not uncommon: up to a quarter of people with OCD experience sexual obsession.

Played with a subtle mix of cynicism and naivety by Charly Clive, Marnie tries to anticipate and deflect outward hints of her obsessive thoughts with an awkward sexual humour. Asked by important colleagues where she is from, she replies, “This tiny place no one’s ever heard of. People drive straight through it to get to somewhere better. Unless they’ve got to stop in a lay-by to vom or do dogging or something. I wouldn’t. Stop I mean, not do dogging. I wouldn’t do dogging either though. Unless it’s a toss-up between that and getting out of the car! Oops, ‘Toss-up’! Because it’s dogging.”

Part of a growing canon of struggling-urban-millennial comedies, Pure is a warm-hearted but unsentimental portrait of a 24 year old trying to overcome her fears of what kind of person she might be, and getting to know herself better in the process. 

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them

This article appears in the 06 Feb 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Broken Europe