‘On the lash for five episodes’: Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope ready for a dramatic finale

After too many drinks, slips and betrayals, things have reached breaking point in the hit RTÉ drama. Can Aisling cope? Will she cope?


We are coming to the conclusion of Stefanie Preissner’s drama Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, and Aisling’s coming to the end of her tether. She’s been on the lash for five episodes now, and everyone has run out of patience with her. Will she cop on and admit she’s got a drink problem, or will she make a mess of her job, friendship and life away in one final fling?

When Can’t Cope Won’t Cope began, we expected a bland enough comedy about the social lives of twentysomethings in Dublin. Aisling (played brilliantly by Seana Kerslake) and Danielle (Nika McGuigan) seemed like cookie-cutter pals, up from Cork and looking for the craic, both singing off the same karaoke sheet.

There was lots of drinking and snogging in Coppers, but it didn’t take long for the extended hangover to set in. And it didn’t take long to realise that Aisling was the toxic twin in this pairing, needing Danielle as an accomplice to validate her increasingly risky party behaviour.

When Danielle has the temerity to decide not be on permanent party call, Aisling goes on a downward spiral of blame and shame. So, countless drinks later, as we wait to see how things end, let’s recap and see how things got to where they are now.

Promising start
It had all started so promisingly for Aisling and Danielle. Aisling had her high-flying job in wealth management; Danielle was enjoying studying art, with the possibility of going to Vancouver on a scholarship (although obviously she wouldn’t leave her BFF behind and go off to Canada).

Despite her drinking, Aisling seemed to be keeping it together at her work, athough she was “sweating vodka, like”. When one of the company’s rich clients dies before re-signing his contract, Aisling phones his newly widowed wife and saves the account, getting her boss Kate (Amy Huberman) out of a hole.

But Kate’s annoyed with Aisling for sleeping with her brother (to be fair, Aisling had no idea he was Kate’s brother when he picked her up at Coppers). And when the company nearly loses a client because Aisling has been sharing confidential information about them with Danielle, Kate warns Aisling to “get your shit together”.

Meanwhile, Danielle is increasingly spending time with fellow-artist Ferg (Muiris Crowley), which doesn’t go down well with Aisling, who can’t believe Danielle would be so selfish not to be at her beck and call. Alone and annoyed with everyone and everything, Aisling goes on a dark weekend of the soul in her home town of Mallow.

Lead party balloon
She’s been summoned home by her parents, who have some news for her and her siblings - Mam is pregnant, and they are about to have a new addition to the family. This goes down like a lead party balloon. Aisling arranges to meet up with an old boyfriend, hoping to rekindle something for the weekend, but – shock-horror – he’s married with a kid, and teetotal.

So she gets drunk on the streets of Mallow, meets a boy outside the chip shop she used to babysit, and proceeds to snog him in the graveyard. When she realises he’s still at school, she staggers off to the station to head back to Dublin.

Having downed a six-pack to take the edge off the train journey, Aisling arrives back in Dublin three sheets to the wind, and is refused entry to a nightclub. She’s found by two gardaí slumped on the steps of a house, starts giving them lip (she’s good at that) and is promptly arrested.

The next morning, Danielle wakes up in bed beside Ferg (“The couch was too cold,” she tells him, not very convincingly). Her phone rings, and it’s the gardaí asking her to come down to the station to collect her friend. Danielle tells her she needs to stay home from work and sober up.

Aisling thinks otherwise – what they need is a day out in Wicklow to clear their heads and reignite their friendship. That doesn’t go well. Danielle tells Aisling: “It’s all about you, isn’t it?” Aisling disses Danielle’s art, calling it “colouring-in”. Darkness sets in, and the pair are stranded in the middle of nowhere with no mobile signal.

Finally, Aisling gets through to Taxi Good (Steve Blount), who collects them and drops them to their (separate) destinations.

So, Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope has turned out to be a very watchable drama with some moments of pure comedy, and not just a series that speaks exclusively to young people.

Can they cope? Will they cope? We’ll find out soon.

- The final episode of Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope airs on RTÉ2 tonight at 9.30pm

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