It’s not often that a mere limited series can be said to “take the piss out” of an entire culture where that expression is common.
That’s kind of the goal in “Frank of Ireland,” a six-short-episode series hitting Amazon this weekend. Every installment has glimpses of the Ireland of cinematic lore — pubs, wakes, funerals, priests and “diddley aye” music, even a duck boat tour (it was shot in Dublin and Belfast).
The series co-stars and was co-created by brothers Brian Gleeson (“Peaky Blinders”) and Domhnall Gleeson (“Star Wars: Episodes VII, VIII and IX”, “Peter Rabbit”), and there’s even a bit of support by their icon Irish actor dad Brendan Gleeson.
They play co-dependents, with Brian, as the unfiltered, lazy and boorish title character.
Frank is a musician whose inspiration and career went in the crapper when he split from Aine (Sarah Green of “The Guard,” “Peaky Blinders”). Their relationship is years-gone, but he still has to scribble “Do Not Sleep With Aine” on his hand, just to make sure.
His long-suffering best mate Doofus (Domhnall) is always at his beck and call, with Frank yanking him out of work for whatever impulse he’s acting on this time.
I described Frank as “unfiltered,” but everybody here seems as foul-mouthed and coarse as our hero. Granted, his constant profane “Taxi Driver” monologues get him banned from cabs, but the f-bombs and blunt if not exactly hilarious sex talk could come from any quarter, most any character.
Aine’s mom dies, and Frank’s persuaded to sing at the funeral. He stops cursing just long enough to try (not really) a tune.
“Here’s a little ditty for God’s sickest woman,” he offers. Doofus he assigns the task of moving merch at “the gig” — handing out CDs, selling T-shirts. Doesn’t end well.
The arc of the series is about Aine moving on, and Frank “working on new material” (NOT) and trying to placate the equally foul-mouthed mother (Pom Boyd) he mooches off as he faces a reckoning with being a 32 year-old lay-about lout.
Every episode has a cutesy movie riff title, setting up movie riff running gags throughout — “We Need to Talk About Kevin Costner,” “‘Memento’ Mary,” “You Talkin’ to Meath” (“Taxi Driver”), “A Few Good Angry Women,” “James Caan’t” (“Misery”).
The jokes can be delightfully random. A dog’s “accident” warrants a hilarious response to “You should rub his nose in it.” But “can be” is quite the proviso here.
Man, we need to talk about workshopping these scattered, frenetic and miss-or-hit scripts and indulging these siblings in this nonsense wank of a series. A “show about nothing” has been done, lads.
“Surreal” is giving “Frank” and the Gleesons too much credit for the strained mania, insistent vulgarity and blabbering, blithering unreality of it all. Don’t get too attached to any character.
The story arc of an obnoxious dead weight lead character isn’t rendered interesting, and the novelty of a family of Irish gingers teaming up wears out. Quickly.
But what do you expect for a show that sets out to “take the piss” and in which being quite Irish and utterly “charmless” is the end goal?
MPA Rating: TV-MA, drugs, nudity, profanity galore
Cast: Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson, Pom Boyd, Sarah Greene, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Pat Shortt
Credits: Created and written by Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson and Michael Moloney. An Amazon Original series.
Running time: Six episodes @ :25 each