Sir Ian McKellen is obviously a magnificent talent in the acting world, and one of his many great qualities is the plethora of unpredictable choices that he's made during his long career. Going from classic stage work all the way up to the wizard Gandalf in the acclaimed Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. And with this new edition into his filmography, he continues that streak. Now he's grumpy, frightfully witty, and downright unpleasant in this new series, yet is still so entertaining to watch.
Freddie (McKellen) and Stuart (Derek Jacobi) are a couple living in a well-to-do apartment building in London. They have been together for decades and hate every second of it. Well, hate is a strong word. They bicker and argue incessantly, throwing insult after insult back and forth, hoping to make the other one feel defeated. And although that sounds pretty harsh, there's still some form of love hidden underneath, which is what makes this series work. It truly is a love-hate relationship.
One day a handsome young man named Ash (Iwan Rheon) moves into the building and meets the unhappy couple. Freddie and Stuart instantly take a liking to him and help mentor the young lad in his many troubles. It's extraordinarily simple in terms of plot but that's also kind of the point.
The humor with this sitcom resembles the relationship of Freddie and Stuart in many ways. It's very easy to take a liking to the constant arguments but it's just as easy to loath it. If it does hit in the right way, laughs will be endless. But if you're on the other side, it might be pretty hard to make it through the pilot. Nevertheless, this series is very well-written and brilliantly acted by its three leads.
It satirizes the English upperclass or, at least, the stereotypes that often come from that type of lifestyle. Both Freddie and Stuart act like they matter and should essentially be royalty, even though they are generally quite average people in the big scheme of things.
This series clearly wants to be both an homage to the great classics of its genre while, at the same time, still including many elements of modern culture into the story. And it usually succeeds in that endeavor, and for the viewers who enjoy that type of style, it's a very enjoyable watch.