Brits in America -
Living the Dream on BritBox
(This review contains spoilers)
As we love anything starring Philip Glenister (who could forget the infamous Gene Hunt in Life on Mars ?), hubby and I were really excited to discover Living the Dream on BritBox. And having binge-watched season 1 already, we can honestly say this is the best telly we’ve seen in ages.
Living the Dream is a Brit comedy series following the Pemberton family from rainy Yorkshire as they sell up and move across the pond to sunny Florida. Like many real-life expats, the fictional Pembertons are thrilled to discover that living in America means a big house, a big car, a big bed and a big refrigerator.
“I love this fridge!” Mal Pemberton (Glenister) gushes in the shiny new kitchen of his massive new home.
Jen, the mum played by Lesley Sharp, grudgingly agrees to blend in with Stateside suburbia by getting all glammed-up, Desperate Housewife-style. And the teenage kids get their first taste of American high school, where football and soccer are two different sports and the Pledge of Allegiance is a daily requirement. Yes, this is the world of country clubs, evangelical churches and purity pacts, as well as mosquitoes, gators, vampire weddings and tornadoes.
Mal and Jen find themselves running a rundown caravan (RV trailer) park, home to an eclectic group of eccentric residents who are not exactly thrilled to meet their new owners. The redneck manager informs Mal, “I ain’t workin’ for no Australians!” as he promptly quits on day one. And due to the terms of their investor visa, if they fail to make a success of the park, the Pemberton’s immigration status will be revoked, sending them back to Blighty before you can say “Bless their hearts”. No pressure then.
This is a very funny and heartwarming tale of culture clashes and stiff-upper-lip Britishness as Mal and his family fight to make their American dream come true. The cast also includes Kevin Nash who plays the giant Troy (standing at an intimidating 6ft 10, Troy revels in towering over Mal) and Jimmy Akingbola (who previously worked with Glenister on Big School) as a fellow Brit investor. And for anyone wondering about the filming location, there’s a little bit of fake news going on here: season 1 was actually shot near beautiful Savannah, so it’s really Georgia pretending to be Florida. (Eagle-eyed viewers will spot the distinctive Talmadge Memorial Bridge in several scenes, which is a big giveaway.)
But as we watched, the Georgia connection wasn’t the only thing that resonated with hubby and I. As Brit expats living in the Deep South ourselves, there was so much of the Pemberton’s experience we could relate to. From constantly getting into the wrong side of the car to compliments on our “Australian” accents and the funny looks we get for using a knife and fork at the same time, this was all so spookily familiar. And just like Mal and Jen, hubby and I often have to pinch ourselves: even after all these years, we still can’t quite believe we are actually Living the (American) Dream.
The final episode of season 1 culminates with the Pembertons and the trailer park residents together singing an amusing mash-up of God Save the Queen and My Country Tis of Thee. A fitting tribute to Anglo-American relations and the perfect end to this brilliant first series.
Highly recommended for expats
(and everyone else).
Living the Dream
seasons 1 & 2
streaming on BritBox
Living and loving life
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