Even though it comes from the Merman stable the trailers for Frank of Ireland didn’t hold out the promise of much laughter. It lived up to expectations.
Frank Marron (Brian Gleeson) is the eponymous central character: an unemployed singer-songwriter dreaming of producing a double-album about the counties of Ireland. Dreaming because he hasn’t actually written a single song since breaking up with girlfriend Aine (Sarah Greene) six years earlier. He is a fantasist. In those six years he has managed to come up with three or four pun-driven song titles but no lyrics or music.
Frank, a sociopath, is hirsute, uncultured and antagonistic by nature. He lives with his mother Mary (Pom Boyd), a sexually promiscuous Tinder scrolling, heavy-drinking woman. Frank’s best friend Doofus (Domhnall Gleeson), is a doofus by name and nature, he’s immature to the point of stupidity, is easily manipulated and led astray by Frank. Theirs is a co-dependent friendship.
In the first episode, at Aine’s grandmother’s wake, Frank offers his condolences to her son (Aine’s dad) “She isn’t your mam anymore,” he tells the grieving man “She’s just a dead old lady.” before plonking his belongings on top of the body in the open casket. Doofus meanwhile is trying to interest the mourners in some outdated CDs.
Against Aine’s advice, her dad asks Frank to sing the 23rd Psalm at the funeral the following day. Frank has other ideas. He then confronts Aine’s new boyfriend, Peter-Brian (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor ) a doctor who is also an exponent of MMA, prompting a laborious confusion about taking MDMA (ecstasy) and practising mixed martial arts). In the few hours before the event Frank manages to hire a female MMA trainer, then go on a bender with her before a drug induced and wine soaked night of sex.
The following morning Frank arrives late at the church outside of which Doofus has set up a merch stall. Attempting to impress Aine in front of her new boyfriend Frank screws up his performance whilst Doofus acts, well, like a doofus.
There’s a running thread of Robert De Niro quotes from Taxi Driver which are frankly irksome in the end.
The blurb issued for this series describes it as “the hilarious story of a man’s hapless search for respect”. Sorry, but, hilarious it isn’t. There are some smiles but few outright laughs. The second and third episodes fare no better. If you can manage the other three then good luck to you.