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Absolutely Fabulous

By Jenny Brown

"Inside of me there's a thin woman trying to get out," complains the ever-suffering Edina. "Are you sure it's just the one, dear?" asks her mother.

When anyone raves about Sex and the City, you need only to remind her that the Brits did it first--and better--with the creation of the brave say-anything show about sex, drugs, and the battle of the bulge. Absolutely Fabulous is a groundbreaking, off-the-wall comedy from the early 1990s, which began with a skit from The French and Saunders Show, about a moral, uptight daughter and her extremely loose mother. Ab Fab has taken this to the extreme. Edina (Jennifer Saunders) is the queen of excess. Her clothes are outrageous, her attempts at weight loss comical, and her efforts at motherhood (her daughter, Saffron--played to perfection by Julia Sawalha--is a practical-minded, reliable teenager) are uneven at best. Eddy's best friend is Patsy, a promiscuous Ivana Trump look-alike who always has a cigarette between her lips, a drink in her hand, and a fine-looking man (or boy) in her bed. The entire show lasted for three seasons, and all are included in this set. From organizing an orgy to a brush with poverty to the death of Eddy's father, nothing--and we mean nothing--is sacred in this show. Without a doubt, Ab Fab is one of the greatest television satires created, although keep in mind that it's strictly for adults.

Season 1

Episodes 1-6: "Fashion" - Edina and Patsy put on a fashion show. "Fat" - Edina confronts the one trend she never followed: fitness. "France" - The girls conquer France! "Iso Tank" - Edina tries to get involved in Saffie's school project. "Birthday" - Edina turns forty with her usual good humor. "Magazine" - We finally see Patsy at work: "One snap of my fingers and I can raise hemlines so high, the world's your gynecologist!"

Season 2

Episodes 7-12: "Hospital" - Patsy's upcoming photo spread with Hello Magazine has her thinking face lift. "Death" - Edina's father dies and we confront the eternal question ("Yes, but is it art?"). "Morocco" - The girls travel to Morrocco. "New Best Friend" - Edina's minimalist friends visit with their maximalist new baby. "Poor" - Edina learns to economise when her ex-husbands cut her off. "Birth" - Patsy nearly burns the house down.

Season 4

The babes of boozeland are back and drunker than ever in the fourth season of the Britcom Absolutely Fabulous. Even after a five-year hiatus, the main characters are unchanged, and the only giveaway that things are different is Eddy's defection from Lacroix to Burberry. Devoted fans will appreciate that this season (which also has the usual dieting, drinking, and manhunting) goes where no Pats and Edina have gone before, from a PR gig with Twiggy to menopause. What's more frightening: Patsy going through "the change" or the two dames dressed to the nines... for a night of moshing at a Marilyn Manson concert? If you're new to the series, have no fears; it won't take long to figure out that Edina (Jennifer Saunders) is the queen of excess, an extraordinary drinker and dieter but horrific mother. (Her daughter, Saffron--played by Julia Sawalha--is the levelheaded one, although as a young adult, her character has less purpose than in previous years.) Patsy (Joanna Lumley) is Eddy's sidekick, with a figure to die for--or at least paralyze for, as her experiences with youth-enhancing Parralox show. This is not a series to miss.


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Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield

Network: Public Television

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Image courtesy of the BBC

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