It’s easy to assume a romantic comedy should be funny. Look, it’s got ‘comedy’ right there in the title! But with a rom-com, the ‘comedy’ side of things often just means a certain lightness of touch – it’s a comedy because it’s not a serious drama. And then there’s Colin From Accounts, which is one rom-com with the accent firmly on the com(edy).
Gordon (Patrick Brammall) is driving to work one morning when he stops at an intersection for Ashley (Harriet Dyer), who decides to flash her boob at him because that’s the kind of person she is. Unfortunately Gordon is the kind of person who is easily distracted by this kind of thing, and takes off without noticing a dog has run in front of his car.
Next thing, the two complete strangers are at a vet (who happens to be Gordon’s ex) trying to decide if a dog they didn’t know existed an hour ago is worth $12,000 and a (dog’s) lifetime of care. Remember that thing about rom-coms requiring a certain lightness of touch? Yeah, they’re not going to kill the dog.
Despite their unequal financial situations – he’s a successful brewer who owns a trendy microbrewery, she’s a medical student – neither of them can figure out an easy exit from the whole injured dog, massive bill situation.
It rapidly turns into a kind of finger trap where the harder they try to back out the harder it is to get away and before you know it they’re living together ‘like an old married couple’.
A successful rom-com requires the establishment of a safe setting where love can flourish. Colin From Accounts has the kind of inner-city hipster vibe where everything is cosy and everyone is daggy or quirky. Gordon has a drum kit in his bedroom and a unicycle by the dining table; Ashley has a bottle of tequila in her bag and a best friend coming down from dexies.
That said, those looking for eight episodes of a soft-focus salute to the magic of love will not find it here. There’s a sequence that involves someone fishing a turd out of a toilet bowl and throwing it out a window in episode one; episode two has someone peeing (in their sleep) on a bedside table.
Remember back in the early 00s when comedy was all about hilarious references to cancer and rape? One episode has both (to be fair, not directly played for laughs) within the first seven minutes.
But for every off-key moment there are at least two funny lines (‘We’re a close family’ – ‘You’re a gross family!’) or quirky moments (the vet is called Yvette) that give proceedings real comedic charm. Some set-pieces could have come out of a bad sketch show; others, like a coffee shop next to a vet’s where every table is waiting on bad news, could have come from a pretty good sketch show.
At times it’s hard to be sure whether this approach gives it a refreshingly realistic handle on where we find comedy in real life, or is just a bit all over the place. Later episodes aren’t afraid to go for big dramatic moments either (death becomes something of a reoccurring theme).
Fortunately, both Brammall and Dyer (who created the series; both she and Brammall are the writers) give every moment 100% whatever the tone.
If the central couple in a rom-com work, then the rom-com works. Brammall and Dyer – who are married in real life – have an ease together (even when their characters are new to each other) that keeps the whole series on track. It’s not so much that you want to see how the relationship develops, as it is they’re a fun duo to spend time with no matter what life seems to throw at them.
The dog’s pretty adorable too.
All eight episodes of Colin From Accounts are available now on Binge.