LBC radio presenter and gay political commentator Iain Dale says ITV’s new gay sitcom Vicious is an “abortion of a comedy” and has praised Brian Sewell’s withering critique of the show.
Writing in the London Evening Standard on Tuesday, art critic Brian Sewell described Vicious as “a spiteful parody that could not have been nastier had it been devised and written by a malevolent and recriminatory heterosexual.”
Sewell, who in 2011 complained of there being too many LGBT characters in British soaps, added: “Vicious, in reviving all the old exaggerated jokes, the posturing, the determination to be heard, may well revive the pernicious prejudices against the faggot and the poof so long familiar to men of my generation. Remember the three teenagers who kicked a man to death in Trafalgar Square.”
Vicious sees Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi play Freddie and Stuart, a bickering gay couple who have been together for 50 years.
“How actors like Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen can bring themselves to appear in it is quite beyond me,” Iain Dale wrote on his LBC blog. “It plays up to every gay stereotype that has ever been invented and listening to the dire repartee almost turned me into a homophobe.”
Dale continued: “As Brian Sewell points out most older gay men spend their dotage living quite ordinary lives devoid of the kind of homo-cattery so prevalent in ‘Vicious’”.
“How did this programme get commissioned in the first place? How on earth did it get past the ITV commissioning editors? Were they so desperate to prove their pro-gay credentials that they just took the first thing that was offered them? It seems like it.”
Referencing American comedy show The New Normal, which features prominent gay characters, Dale continued: “They should have looked across the Atlantic to America if they want to show a gay comedy that is both genuinely funny and imparts a subliminal message – that hey, gay people are really just like straight people.”
“I refer, of course to E4’s brilliant sitcom The New Normal, which I have written about before. It’s about two gay guys who want to have a child.”
Dale added: “There’s no buttock clenchingly embarrassing moments. There’s no ‘yuckiness’. It’s a programme you can watch with your mother and not be embarrassed. Whereas with ‘Vicious’ the only place to watch it is alone in a darkened room (No, not THAT sort of dark room!)”
Along with Dale and Sewell, several TV commentators have panned Vicious, although the Mirror’s Jane Simon remains impressed with the show.
Reviewing Monday night’s second episode, she wrote: “Hearing Sir Ian McKellen gleefully call Sir Derek Jacobi ‘a cheating slut’ is a joke we’re not going to get tired of for ages. And that’s one of the less vicious insults being hurled about in episode two of our favourite new sitcom.”