Hulu’s latest import focuses on the secrets we all carry and the lengths we go to in order to live with them.
Everyone has a secret or two. They’re usually fairly innocuous. A crush you’d never admit to, drinking the last cup of coffee and not making more, that time you ate candy from the display when you worked retail and didn’t pay for it. Most people’s secrets would never hurt a soul.
But some of them would.
Hulu’s newest BBC acquisition, Am I Being Unreasonable?, takes its name from a Mumsnet message board. On it, (mostly) women seek advice, wonder if their limit would be anyone else’s, and receive advice of dubious quality. For Nic (Daisy May Cooper, series co-creator and co-writer), her problems seem pretty generic on the surface. Her marriage to the blandly unpleasant Dan (Dustin Demri-Burns) is dying in bits and pieces. Her son Ollie (Lenny Rush), the one joy in her life, has sometimes had enough of Mum.
Nic’s short fuse and sharp sense of humor do little to endear her to the other mothers at Ollie’s school until the arrival of Jen (Selin Hizli, the other co-creator and co-writer). It’s the friendship with Jen that begins to unravel Nic’s darker secrets: namely that she had a years-long affair with Alex (David Fynn), who recently died in front of Nic’s eyes, leaving her with grief she can’t express, and PTSD that she can never explain.
Jen and Nic’s friendship forms on a foundation of shared disdain for the people around them (save only their sons). It builds as Jen provides the listening ear and undivided attention that Nic craves. Still, it’s clear to the audience that something is going on with Jen as she acts shifty around Dan, avoids questions about her past, and secretly records Nic as she drunkenly confesses to her affair.
Hizli’s big eyes and sweet smiles may or may not mask a darker purpose as Jen charms Nic with canned gin and tonics (at a school fair!). But then she runs off into the night when she gets a mysterious phone call and (possibly) steals Nic’s beloved coat. For Nic’s part, she’s clearly relieved to finally have an outlet for her Alex-related feelings. Unfortunately, she lets this relief overwhelm her, bringing up ever sharper memories of the night that Alex died. Soon she’s hallucinating a teenage couple who may or may not have had something to do with it.
Though Cooper and Hizli are an excellent pair, Cooper carries much of the series.
Am I Being Unreasonable? bills itself as a “comedy-thriller.” It’s a perfectly adequate descriptor. That said, it might more accurately call itself a comedy of memory. As Nic and Jen’s secrets unravel, it’s brutally apparent that neither is a reliable narrator. Indeed, their minds have sweetened their memories. Nic, in particular, clings to her snow-covered recollections. She accepts explanations from Jen and Ollie that hold little water but that she needs to believe.
Though Cooper and Hizli are an excellent pair, Cooper carries much of the series. She plays Nic as a (reasonably) good person struggling with pressures out of her control while making plenty of messes all by herself. It’s clear from moment one that Nic is a lonely person, trying to convince Ollie to be late to school so that they can watch reality television together and muttering insults at her flighty neighbor Lucy (Karla Crome). She’s primed for whatever Jen is up to, be it blackmail or friendship. A very clingy style of friendship.
Hulu is dropping the entire series at once, which is good for those who want to get to the bottom of these secrets and lies. Still, Am I Being Unreasonable? should be appreciated as one goes. Binging will get you some answers, yes. However, make sure not to miss everything else along the way.
Am I Being Unreasonable? is sipping canned gin and tonics like a Queen on Hulu now.