Breeders is no laughing matter. In the first series it was clear from the start that the father, Paul (Martin Freeman) had anger management issues. But his personality has developed into something far darker than that. He is an increasingly, verbally abusive father screaming profanities at his children. He is on the brink of converting that verbal abuse into the physical; a flick of a switch away from becoming a perpetrator of domestic violence.
Like all such people he is capable of switching into gentle, remorseful mode but always remains on the edge of explosive anger at the slightest provocation. Wife, Ally (Daisy Haggard), mainly keeps the lid on the threat of his potential violence but she too can explode on occasion.
Of course they love their children but at the same time resent the intrusion into their lives. It is no wonder that 13 year old son Luke (Alex Eastwood) frequently disappears from the confines of the powder keg in which he lives, to be alone nor that his 10 year old sister seeks to protect him.
Paul’s anger is not confined to the household. He is angry with the succession of psychiatrists he visits, the children’s teachers, in fact with almost everyone with whom he comes into contact. He even screams profanities in open public places.
The performances are excellent, as you’d expect from Freeman and Haggard and there are moments of amusing self-deprecation, a spattering of wisecracks and smart lines but they don’t do enough to generate laughter. In fact should one even laugh at or with such a flawed character, as Paul.
There are comedies and there are dramedies, Breeders is somewhere north of those. Maybe, a new genre is required, ‘Dramedy Noir’ perhaps. One thing’s for sure, the singular term comedy does not apply.
A third series has already been commissioned.