‘Can’t Cope Won’t Cope’ finale: What an incomplete Aisling
Review: In series 2, the plot grew ever-less-plausible and even Coppers began to feel old
Seána Kerslake and Nika McGuigan as Aisling and Danielle, ‘Can’t Cope Won’t Cope’ co-dependent stars.
Drama and comedy may seem like great friends, but fundamentally they want different things.
A drama asks that its protagonists are put through the wringer, confronting crisis and themselves, and by the end in some way transformed. Comedy, on the other hand, knows that mistakes are endless. It hopes we’ll never learn.
Like most shows today, Can’t Cope Won’t Cope draws from both wells, putting them in a relationship similar to that of Aisling and Danielle – two young women each drawn helplessly to each other, despite apparently irreconcilable differences.
If the first series ended with a tint of tragedy, spinning them in different directions in a moment of clarity, the second ends with a comic route, watching them retreat from big city failures on the morning train to Mallow. “This is the end,” Seána Kerslake’s Aisling says at one point, after even the miraculous Taxi Good (Steve Blount) has decided to pack it in. “I thought it’d look different.” Me too.
If it looked for a moment that Aisling and Danielle might be trading places, by the end they were really melding into the same person
Whether it was Kerslake’s divine performance – capable of shifting from mischievous fun to unsettling derangement, often without the distending power of Coppers – or the intoxication of the character’s heedlessness, Aisling became the star of the show at the expense of it.
Nika McGuigan is a magnetic performer, but her Danielle became ever wetter, more passive. Exhilarating and toxically self-absorbed, Aisling seemed even to manipulate her creator, Stefanie Preissner, who this series gave her a gay best friend, a buff personal trainer, a high-fiving life coach and a fascinating form of exo-conscience, all in the shape of Peter Campion’s amiable Joe. In his company “the new Aisling” has something close to an epiphany. “Oh, my God, am I a f**king basic bitch?!” she asked. Given how much self-insight still eluded her, there was no polite answer. What an incomplete Aisling.
But what chance does she have to grow when the world itself – however beautiful director Imogen Murphy makes it look – has become so small? When it is discovered, for instance, that unbeknownst to her, Aisling has stolen the same woman’s fiancé and now her father; that her new boss at her new company is – “of f**king course” – her old boss from her old company (guest star and champion arm folder Amy Huberman); or that her bland work colleague has gotten her bland sister pregnant, even fans of the benign and omnipresent Taxi Good, or the most breathless telenovelas, will consider plot points a little too implausible. With so few variations available in this, the known universe, even Coppers starts to feel as old as purgatory.
If it looked for a moment that Aisling and Danielle might be trading places, flipping their positions of struggling resolution and tempting dissolution, by the end they were really melding into the same person. “I love you, like,” Danielle tells her other half, freshly evicted and drunk in a hallway. “I think I’m addicted to you,” replies Aisling. Whether or not you could call it a happy ending, this always felt like their destiny. They can co-depend and will co-depend. Where to next?