Should I Try It: Funny Woman

The latest import to PBS finds Gemma Arterton as an aspiring comedy actress trying to make her career in London in the 1960s.

2023 Toronto International Film Festival - "The Critic" Premiere
2023 Toronto International Film Festival - "The Critic" Premiere / Kayla Oaddams/GettyImages
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We live in a big era for content. We have networks, streaming services, movies and more. It seems the only thing that hasn’t gotten bigger is our available time for viewing. That can leave you wondering whether a new show or mini-series is worth your time. That’s what this series is here to help you solve! In these pieces I’ll look at a new show, where to find it, what it’s about and some comparable options to help you decide whether to dive in or move on!

Series: Funny Woman

Where to Find It: New episodes air Sundays at 10 p.m. on PBS and the season is available to stream on the PBS App.

What’s It About: This latest series from England is Funny Woman, which aired in the Spring of 2023 overseas and is now making its American debut Sunday nights on PBS. The series is six episodes, each about an hour. It’s based on the novel of the same name from Nick Hornsby and sets its action in London in 1964.

We begin by meeting Barbara (Gemma Arterton), who is a small-town girl with big city dreams. After winning the local beauty pageant in her hometown, she decides it’s time to make those dreams happen. So, she travels to London with an eye toward becoming a comic icon like Lucille Ball. But first, she has to pay her dues in a crummy apartment and working at a retail store.

Soon, she comes across a talent manager (Rupert Everett) who gets her auditions. Can she make it in the male-dominated world of the 1960s? Barbara fights for an opportunity to let her talent speak for itself.

You Should Try It If: You enjoy period pieces, are a fan of Arterton, or enjoyed the Prime Video series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

One Man’s Opinion of Funny Woman

We’re just a week into the new year and already starting to get a number of new viewing options. With limited viewing time, picking the right projects is a challenge. When I saw the premise of this series, it reminded me of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which concluded a five-season run on Prime Video in 2023. That series used the life and career of Joan Rivers as inspiration, while this has the novel from Hornsby as a guide.

It's also blessed with a solid cast. I enjoyed Arterton in the lead role, as she effortlessly brings the character to life and glides through the scenes. Everett does a nice job in a supporting role as does the rest of the cast. The pilot is a little slow, spending its time building the world and building up the character. But by the time we hit the second episode, we’re springing forward into the set up and her first big break.

I like the premise here and the story has plenty of potential. There’s intrigue in the period setting and the potential of the story moving forward. This is a nice addition to the Sunday night lineup.

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