There are some shows you kick yourself for not watching sooner, but it’s more of a delayed gratification kick. You found the show in the end, and that’s what matters. With Raised By Wolves, a few months’ time could’ve made a difference in extending the comedy’s short life.
Premiering in 2013, Raised by Wolves aired for two seasons before a Kickstarter campaign last Fall tried to bring it back for a third. Semi-based on the childhoods of show creators, Caitlin and Caroline Moran, single mother, Della (Rebekah Staton) raises her six children brood on a budget in Wolverhampton, England.
You can’t turn back time, and while an extra half hour with the Garry family would’ve been tremendous, the Kickstarter campaign didn’t raise enough funds. Since then, an American pilot of the show, written by Diablo Cody (Juno, United States of Tara), has been ordered by ABC, but for those discovering the British version, it’s not too late to honor the episodes that do exist. Here are five reasons to watch Raised by Wolves:
- Steady thriftiness
Economic realities are an everyday consideration for Della and her family. It takes a tangible effort to survive and stick to an allowance, and every member of the family puts in time to make it work. As an example of what they’re up against, when their land lady wants to sell, so she can charge higher rent, Della never acts like this won’t happen. She never tricks herself into believing they will suddenly come into money. Della goes house hunting, and the crappy places available in her price range are real possibilities. There’s no pretending or waiting for circumstances to change on this show, and when Della comes into some luck, it’s nothing close to a sudden windfall that makes her problems go away.
- No child (or Grampy) left behind
Germaine (Helen Monks), Aretha (Alexa Davies), and Yoko (Molly Risker) carry most of the storylines but there are no periphery siblings on this show. Wyatt (Caden Ellis Wall), Mariah (Erin Freeman), and Cher are condensed as “The Babs” in the opening credits but their personalities are specific and distinct. Cher is the baby. There’s no way around that, but she’s also always towed around when the rest of the family go out. This isn’t a show that forgets parenthood is 24/7, so when Della leaves the house there’s either somebody watching the kids or she’s taking the kids with her. Later, when Grampy (Philip Jackson) moves in, Della treats him as a member of the household and he, in turn, is her partner in getting stuff done. Nothing is taken for granted. Grampy is a man, not a permanent babysitter, and Della is the parent, who gets full berth on how her home is run. They never have to establish those boundaries. That’s how they treat each other, but Grampy isn’t an inconvenience or a prop.
- Abandoning sitcom infodumps
This isn’t a show that necessitates that you watch every episode in order, but there are continuing story lines, and how much you know about the family builds from pieces of dialogue strewn throughout. Della never comes out and says why her relationship is strained with her mother, but you pick up lines over the course of the series, so that you understand enough. Della’s mom is unseen (just her manicured hand appears twice) and at first the children’s father appears to be headed the same way, but once we meet him personally, he fits with the rest of the family. A lot of that comes from the show not telling us how to feel about him, so we can forge our own opinions. Nothing is ever rushed, and it’s the show’s readiness to let storylines dissipate on their own time that make Aretha’s gradual questioning of her sexuality one of the biggest losses of the dropped third season.
- Germaine, as the breakout character
With her uncontainable personality, and freshly awakened sex drive, Germaine is never a punchline or a cautionary tale. Her antics get wild, but the show celebrates her bravado. She’s not afraid to put herself out there, and it’s a forward maturity that doesn’t get recognized as a maturity of any kind, because being outspoken about your sexuality is so taboo. Her deductions are profound (“There’s nothing less attractive than someone who doesn’t fancy you”), and she has a better understanding of self than most adults do.
- Mothering from a platform of mutual respect
The Garry family can’t claim an orthodox upbringing, but they’re one of the most functional families on TV because of how they treat one another. We get some idea of what the outside world thinks, from their cousin, Cathy (other children aren’t exactly kind about their eclectic fashions and home schooling), but Della doesn’t raise her kids to be embarrassed about who they are. She’s not a hypocrite (if she makes them participate in a social activity she makes herself join in, too). Packed in the backseat of her car, Della offers to take the kids on a scenic route to school. Instead of viewing their extended stay in cramped quarters as punishment, the unanimous answer is “yeah.” Della talks to her kids and is always honest with them. When Germaine gets her hand stuck in a crush’s mail slot, Della doesn’t embarrass or scold her, but helps her get unstuck.
That communication pays off. When Germaine wants to try underage drink, she tells her mother. She doesn’t sneak out of the house, and when her mother decides to let her go, after instating guidelines first, Germaine listens to them, and follows through. You don’t have characters acting out or rebelling in ‘classic’ ways because there’s a solid back and forth already established. Other sitcom families would be so lucky to operate this way.
Raised By Wolves streams on AcornTV.