Can’t Cope Won’t Cope review: slipping drunkenly between comedy and drama

Seána Kerslake is great as a party-mad twentysomething, but the party gets a bit dull

In this clip from new RTE2 series, Can't Cope, Won't Cope, Aisling (Seána Kerslake ) visits the pharmacist (Eileen Walsh) in search of the morning after pill. Video: RTE

 

It’s only the start of the week, and already the party has got out of hand. There’s a whole lot of craziness going on in RTÉ’s new comedy drama Can’t Cope Won’t Cope (Monday, RTÉ Two). It’s an endless round of drinking, cursing, texting, shifting, shagging and puking – then getting up a couple of hours later to go to work. Jeez, I can’t keep up with these young people anymore.

The series follows the party lifestyles of Aisling and Danielle, two young women from Cork working in Dublin and sharing a house. They’re sort of a millennial odd couple – Aisling is all techie and businessy, working for a fund manager at the IFSC. Danielle is the arty one, studying graphic design at DIT.

A neat animated title sequence outlines the differences between the two, but they’re not all that different – both are mad into partying, and we first meet them on the first of many typically mad nights out in the Big Shmoke, heading to Copper Face Jacks, knocking back shots in the loo, and going home with complete strangers. Sounds like my life 25 years ago.

If you played a drinking game, taking a shot every time Aisling and Danielle ended a sentence with the word “like”, you still wouldn’t be able to keep up with them.

But it soon becomes apparent that Aisling likes partying a little too much for Danielle’s comfort, and when the night-time antics get a little out of hand (stealing a car at Dollymount strand while its owner is “dogging” in another car), the two friends come to blows.

Seána Kerslake doesn’t just grab your attention as Aisling – she wrestles it to the floor and has her wicked way with it. Aisling is on a highway to hell – drinking for Ireland, having unsafe sex with her boss’s little brother, and taking stupid risks just for the craic. When her pharmacist admonishes her for requesting yet another morning-after pill, though, it starts to feel a bit preachy.

Amy Huberman leads a decent supporting cast, but really this is a two-hander about a frienship that’s quickly going into meltdown.

Can’t Cope Won’t Cope is written by Stefanie Preissner, who wrote the successful stage show Solpadeine is My Boyfriend, and directed by Cathy Brady. They are to be commended for getting a programme featuring these two supremely flawed female central characters on the telly, but they don’t seem to have found much for them to do besides drinking and shagging etc. They’ve avoided glamorising the girls’ lives, but it all feels a little too stylised. On the plus side, it’s well-acted, occasionally funny and with a few moments of real pathos, but in their quest to reflect real young lives, Preissner and Brady have lost the opportunity to create either a riotously funny comedy or an explosively hard-hitting drama. This just seems to slip drunkenly between two stools.

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