As a Brit, and something of an involuntary eye-roller at, well, pretty much everything, I’m not sure what to think about this.
Us & Them is the reswizzled version of Gavin & Stacey – with Alexis Bledel from Gilmore Girls and Jason Ritter from Parenthood taking the title roles – and as with all translated cultural artefacts, it’s the new tone of voice that’s hardest to appreciate at first.
For the same reason that The Inbetweeners stopped working when it was taken out of a grotty provincial British secondary school and put in a lovely sunny American high school – the sort of place you could film a musical – it’s hard to make sense of some of the cultural leaps here. Gavin seems to live in New York, for example, and that’s odd.
The British Gavin doesn’t live in London, he lives in Billaricay, in Essex (which is sort of New Jersey to London’s New York). That might seem a curious nit to pick but it’s a key character detail.
Part of the setup of Gavin & Stacey is that while the Essex mob think they’re ahead of the backwoods Barry contingent, it’s emphatically not a tale of high meets low. There are no sophisticates mixing with hicks, and each side has habits that confound the other. A genuine Londoner would look down on all of them.
There again, there aren’t direct cultural equivalents for most things, and the bits of this trailer that really seem to work best are those that don’t match events in the first episode of Gavin & Stacey. It’s hard to imagine Uncle Bryn popping up out of a car trunk like that, but it’s fine that Uncle Michael does in this new context. And it’s funny too!
The only real note of caution I’d like to sound is that they appear to have cast a Jack Blackalike as Smithy, and he lacks any of the charisma and eloquence of James Corden. Too much eyebrows, too much slacker snark, not enough working-man’s heart. And bearing in mind very little of what makes Gavin & Stacey work is down to the love story that takes place between of Gavin and Stacey, that could be a big problem.
Let’s see what happens, shall we?