Juice Review – a raucous and mind-blowing millennial queer comedy | Television and radio

There are some comedy tropes more compelling than that of the adult baby: Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character in Fleabag is one, constantly breaking things just to get a reaction from those around her; Kendall Roy in Succession is one, throwing tantrums when something doesn’t go his way. Juice, a new BBC Three comedy created by Mawaan Rizwan, is a worthy addition to the adult baby canon. It delves into the mind of a cartoonish millennial named Jamma, played with (intentionally) excruciating hammering by Rizwan. It’s a series about what it means to be an adult when you’re incapable of doing anything for yourself. Jamma dances and gesticulates gleefully throughout life, often trying to do the right thing but rarely doing anything other than making the situation he finds himself in worse. He takes off his gear during a house inspection to make his butt dance, calls a timeout on the kids’ soccer game he’s coaching to ask them for advice on his love life, and is unable to talk to his boss without l ‘insult. Juice is a parade of humiliating little moments like these, to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if many viewers watched the show through their fingers.

Rizwan began his career as a YouTuber and rose to fame hosting How Gay Is Pakistan?, a documentary on gay rights in his country of birth. Juice is based on a show Rizwan put on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018 and, unlike so many other queer comedies, it’s not about a quest for acceptance in the traditional sense. Jamma’s parents and siblings are totally accepting that he’s gay – his mother, Farida, and brother, Isaac, are played by his real mother Shahnaz and his brother Nabhaan (who appeared in Industry) – but are decidedly less in agreement with his being. a total weirdo. In fact, no one in Jamma’s life is: her older therapist boyfriend, Guy (Russell Tovey, a fan of Rizwan’s original fringe show), while well-meaning, can’t wrap his head around the fact that her partner is pathologically and relentlessly avoidant.

Shahnaz, Mawaan Rizwan's on-screen (and real-life) mother, with him in Juice
“A total scene stealer”… Mawaan Rizwan with his on-screen (and real-life) mother, Shahnaz, in Juice. Photograph: Liam Daniel/BBC/Warner Media

In other words, Jamma lives entirely in her own world. Juice is like a cartoon come to life: when Guy tells Jamma he loves her, the walls of a locker room begin to close in; a flirtatious new acquaintance hangs around Jamma like a ghost, watching him when his texts start burning a hole in Jamma’s phone. It can take a while to get used to Juice’s stunning visual style – the opening scene, in which Jamma’s boss’s office becomes a jungle filled with carnivorous vines, feels like a relic from older, more ramshackle surrealist series such as The Mighty Boosh. – but he quickly settles into his rhythms, putting together witty and ridiculous set pieces. When Jamma experiences anxiety, everything around him trembles and quivers; her orgasm is greeted by the blast of a confetti cannon. Rizwan said Juice was inspired by the work of director Boots Riley, a modern surrealist master; Juice’s fantasy elements aren’t executed with as much panache, but they still add sparkle to what might otherwise have been a fairly standard exploration of millennial malaise.

Juice can be uneven – some of the show’s surreal elements feel heavy-handed, or blocking moments that should feel snappy – and it’s at its best when exploring Jamma’s relationships with her family. Shahnaz is a total scene-stealer as a washed-up actor trying to stage a production of War Horse with a group of young children; volatile and manic one moment and tender the next, it often feels like her character is more thinly drawn than Jamma, who generally acts wacky and bizarre. It’s funny to see him being a little jerk to everyone – after finding out that Isaac has been hired at the marketing agency where he works, he implies that he shouldn’t take the job “because of… colonialism and all that” – but moments of nuance, like the tête-à-tête he has with Farida about the work required in a long-term relationship, are rare.

This doesn’t matter all that much, given that much of Juice is loud and purely entertaining. In many ways, it’s a love letter to slapstick comedy rendered in millennial vernacular: Buster Keaton transplanted to agency offices and mid-century furniture stores, and forced to make a living way in a serious world that doesn’t really make sense. .

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Juice was broadcast on BBC Three. The first series is available on BBC iPlayer.


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