The 50 best TV shows of 2022: No 6 – Big Boys

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Jack Rooke begins his autobiographical bid by taking america backmost to 2013, conscionable aft his dada has died. “It’s crap erstwhile it’s your dada – the lone 1 who knows the Sky pin,” real-life Rooke narrates arsenic we ticker his teenage aforesaid (played by Dylan Llewellyn) grieving with his mum Peggy (Camille Coduri) successful their Watford semi-detached. “We stuck unneurotic similar Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby,” helium recalls, “but heavy down we were bittersweet similar Eamonn and Ruth.” Get utilized to this affectional ping-pong: for each belly laughter successful the adjacent six episodes – and 1 erupts each infinitesimal – determination follows a large aged sob.

When Jack starts assemblage he’s a self-described “damp cloth”, and Llewellyn is fantastic to ticker with his wide-eyed naivety, fleece jackets and permanently perplexed look. He’s terrified of yet surviving his cheery beingness openly (he hasn’t travel retired to his mum), but desperately wants to beryllium excited astir it. When helium moves to halls, helium meets well-meaning lads’ lad Danny (a superb Jon Pointing) – the benignant of feline who mixes up Anne Frank and Tracy Beaker and calls himself an LGBTQ+ “ally-lama”.

At the extremity of the archetypal episode, Danny reads retired the TV listings and Jack guesses which transmission each amusement is on, to assistance calm his anxiety. What ensues is simply a coming-of-age communicative astir grief, depression, identity, sexuality and yet the improbable but beauteous relationship betwixt 2 precise antithetic young men.

They navigate mean assemblage things: surviving distant from home, going to parties, experimenting with drugs. They signifier a small, loyal crew: take-no-bullshit chill nerd Corrine (Izuka Hoyle) loosens up astir them, portion Yemi (Olisa Odele) is Jack’s archetypal fabulous cheery friend, who takes him to a queer nightclub wherever helium reveals his learner plates by accidentally drinking poppers. There’s besides Jules (Katy Wix), a thirtysomething erstwhile pupil who ne'er near campus, works astatine the pupil national and confuses Isis with Asos.

The noughties satellite is brought to beingness with plentifulness of pleasing popular civilization references: The X Factor’s Wagner, a favored goldfish called Alison Hammond, Take Me Out, Grindr, Jo from S Club 7’s estimation aft Celebrity Big Brother and a Live, Laugh, Love sign. There’s besides the eventual indie kid soundtrack of Metronomy, James Blake, MIA, Justice and Patrick Wolf. It’s capable to marque millennial viewers realise, ohio shit, this was our youth! When did we go … old?

As Jack learns much astir Danny, we spot that helium excessively has been going done a pugnacious time. He’s estranged from his parents, his beloved nan has Alzheimer’s and he’s connected antidepressants. Danny has hidden each this done large smiles and banter, but arsenic the friends commencement to speech openly astir their existent feelings – which inactive feels revolutionary for TV successful 2022 – they autumn into each other’s arms successful floods of tears, unafraid to beryllium vulnerable.

Jack’s beingness brightens – a glorious enactment country successful which helium sings on to Hot Chip and hallucinates a Tesco repast woody shows however acold he’s come. But things commencement to spell incorrect for Danny erstwhile helium stops taking his antidepressants. “I conscionable privation to beryllium a mean feline astatine uni,” helium tells Jack done tears. “Now I conscionable privation a substance from my nan.” He stops going to counselling, fails his archetypal twelvemonth and moves backmost to Margate without telling anyone.

In a standout scene, the existent Jack Rooke sits beside Danny connected the beach. Danny is penning a letter. “Whatever that missive is, don’t spell there, cos you can’t permission america mate,” says Rooke. “Mate, I don’t privation to permission you – I privation to permission me,” is the reply. Like the remainder of the script, it is taut penning that manages to springiness truthful generously. You consciousness Rooke wrote the country with his champion person successful mind, who died erstwhile helium was 19 (he has since written standup shows and a publication astir antheral intelligence health).

The communicative has a blessed ending, implicit with a party, balloons and a toast to the future. At a clip erstwhile writers look reluctant to acquisition viewers specified neat finales, it is refreshing – a reminder that, immoderate happens, everyone deserves to consciousness OK again.

When I finished Big Boys, I thought of each the men successful my beingness I instantly wanted to implore to ticker it. My archetypal hesitation astir immoderate awkwardness this mightiness origin was impervious that conversations astir men’s intelligence wellness inactive request to beryllium normalised. But recommending this amusement to radical is simply a acquisition – 1 I genuinely judge mightiness change, possibly adjacent save, immoderate men’s lives. And with top-tier dick jokes thrown successful (“I can’t get a Kerry Katona!” says Danny, who is incapable to get hard due to the fact that of his medication) tv doesn’t get overmuch much peculiar than this.

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