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25 March 2020

Mae Martin’s quietly charming comedy Feel Good

A comedy tackling drug addiction and coming out, Feel Good is neither patronising nor fluffy.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

It’s hard to take a title such as “Feel Good” seriously right now: as an instruction it feels pathetically inadequate; as an adjective woefully inappropriate – mediocre feel-good viewing is probably as psychologically nourishing as mindless blank scrolling. Fortunately, Feel Good is neither patronising nor fluffy.

A semi-autobiographical Channel 4 series created by and starring comedian Mae Martin, it centres around a Canadian stand-up comic and recovering addict in London, also named Mae. She is anxious, impulsive and “intense” – or, as one character puts it, “her legs are always moving and her eyes are spooky”. When she meets posh, sweet George (Charlotte Ritchie) at a gig, she is instantly consumed by the relationship: “It’s the greatest gift of my life that I get to have sex with goddamn Princess Diana every day!” But the script breezes over the early days of romance: the couple have their first kiss in the show’s seventh minute; by the ninth, they’ve moved in together and Mae is disguising her fear over the speed of their cohabitation as excitement. “I couldn’t sleep!” she grins, clutching two coffees. “I’m too pumped!”

From here, the focus is firmly on the couple’s personal challenges; all the things that remain unsaid in their blissful first few months – from the reality of recovering from years of drug use to the fear of coming out to conservative friends and family. Through it all, Martin and Ritchie have the kind of solid, quiet chemistry that makes it easy to root for Mae and George, even when the downsides of their relationship threaten to overwhelm the positives. I can’t promise it will make you feel good, but it might, for a moment, make you feel a little better. 

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This article appears in the 25 Mar 2020 issue of the New Statesman, The crisis chancellor