Separation within a long-term marriage is a tragic situation to be in. I Want My Wife Back is a refreshingly humorous look at the subject, as we witness the turmoil of married life when a rough patch happens. When nice guy Murray (Ben Miller), discovers that his wife, Bex (Carolin Catz) wants to separate indefinitely, he is at a loss for what to do. He knows that he’ll change in any way he has to in order to get her back, but each attempt seems to go horribly wrong.
The BBC mini-series has just six parts, with a classic Miller-style humour woven into each episode. You can’t help but root for Murray from the beginning, who seems to attract the most dysfunctional of characters (among them a zany 27 year old colleague who is obsessed with him, and a simple-minded best friend who can’t help but make everything worse). Each character plays an interesting caricature of a stereotype – not necessarily that realistic, but funny all the same. Despite the focus being on Murray and Bex, we do see a lot of development of the smaller characters, which is great as they really do all make the show worth watching. It’s quite hard to name just one favourite, as they’re all so great, but I’d have to say that Curtis (name name) stands out as the skittish boss who will go to any lengths to hide his affair from the rest of the world.
There’s a lot of focus on humour in the series, but with small glimpses of the gravity of the situation every so often. The humour is good, with some very well-written scenes and, although I felt the humour was quite tame and gentle, there was at least one scene per episode which made me laugh out loud. Ben Miller has always been good at awkward, cringe-inducing humour, which is exactly what we see a lot of during I Want My Wife Back. It works, but I felt the humour got less intense towards the final episodes, where we see a lot more seriousness instead.
There’s also a big theme around ‘lost in translation’, which works really well due to the great acting of the cast. Unfortunately, some parts felt a little bit predictable (in particular the end), and I did find myself guessing a lot of the twists before they’d happened. It wasn’t too much of an issue as the series was so light, but sometimes there were clichés that were just too over-used.
Humour aside, the show did deal with the emotions of the characters well, and added some depth to the situation that made it a bit more believable. For example, the chemistry between Murray and Bex was so well-done that you could almost believe that they were married in real life. Some of the scenes were nicely shot, and the jazzy soundtrack really complemented the different moods that needed to get across. There’s a nice balance between light-hearted and serious, and it definitely makes an easy watch.
It’s a bit of a soppy mini-series, but I still really enjoyed it. I Want My Wife Back is certainly not going to keep you on the edge of your seat but, if you need something to watch on a cold evening with a cup of tea and a loved one, then it makes a great choice.
I Want My Wife Back gets 3/5.
I Want My Wife Back at CeX
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