The new comedy from ‘Love Island’ narrator Iain Stirling draws deeply on his own experience in that very demanding field of children’s entertainment – the trouble is, it’s not that funny
Buffering is a “millennial” comedy – written by millennials about millennials and for millennials. Groot. They can barely afford to live, have no prospect of homeownership and a pension is something from another planet, but at least they can bathe their inter-generational wounds in the warm balm of situation comedy. Except, and it seems an especially cruel blow, they deserve better than Buffering (ITV2). It adds insult to injury really, and it’s a pity.
As they are for any millennial embarking on the great adventure of life, hopes must have been high. The scripts are by Iain Stirling (the voice of Liefde-eiland) and fellow stand-up comic Steve Bugeja – both great talents – and the premise is a promising one. Late-vintage millenial Iain (Iain Stirling) is a children’s TV presenter frustrated at being upstaged by a lizard puppet with a Chorley accent. He draws deeply on his own experience in that very demanding field of entertainment. Iain (the character, dit is) is equally frustrated in his love life, which finds him rotating between his programme producer Olivia (Elena Saurel) and a sexy older single mum he’s met via Tinder (predictably), played by Samantha Womack (also predictably). Iain shares a nice big house in trendy Peckham, Suid-Londen, with a group of other millennials and, being millennials, they are all obsessed with sex, spirituality, and food fads, which sounds about right from my limited exposure to these youngish people, though maybe a touch cliched.
The trouble is, it’s not that funny, or least not for us non-millennials. The first episode has a kind of modernised Shakespearean comedy-of-errors storyline about sexting, which ends up with the millennial housemates basically all sexting each other by proxy, with non-hilarious results. This is mainly because it involves sending “dick pics”, which are – as I believe the phrase goes – “problematic”, and the whole joke is laboured to the point of destruction. I get the punchline that the one couple in the millennial house share (Ash and Greg, played by Rosa Robson and Paul G Raymond) end up sexting each other while next to each other in bed, but the irony, like their sexual congress, is dished out rather heavily.
Buffering is a bit weak, and untypical of the kind of witty and sardonic wisecracks that the millennials I know zing at will over a few drinks. A line such as “my vagina just fell off” can be comedy gold with the right timing, but it just sounded embarrassing when it fizzled out here. Jessie Cave (as Rosie) is wasted as a two-dimensional hippy throwback landlady in their unrealistically well-appointed shared home (“thank old age for killing my grandmother”). Indeed the rest of the cast are generally underemployed; comedically speaking, the house is too crowded for the characters to breathe and develop and have a few decent lines of their own. I counted plenty of stereotypical millennial references – the sexting and Tinder, natuurlik, but also soy yoghurt, onesies, dilfs, clickbait – but I expected much more from Buffering than a game of millennial catchphrase bingo. I’m just waiting for someone to shriek, “OK, Boomer!”