There’s something to say for being completely and unapologetically unashamed of yourself, a feat that no show did better than BBC One’s Miranda.
Miranda ended its run with a final, thirty-five minute special on New Year’s Day, and it was just as deeply silly as the show always has been. Miranda is a multi-camera sitcom; a series compiled of 20 episodes filled with ridiculous hijinks and physical humor that sometimes hits the right spot, but, more recently, hasn’t quite been getting there.
Despite its slight third season downturn, though, Miranda is still a deeply important television show. The programme is a hit with teenage girls, a surprise to everybody but teenage girls themselves. Miranda is a show whose protagonist dared to be an embarrassing heroine. She said the wrong thing, didn’t care what she wore, and always put her foot in it. But the people that she loved — us, her mother, her best friend Stevie and her old friend and love interest Gary — always found her funny and endearing and lovable because of her mistakes that she never apologized for.
Miranda Hart herself has said that she’s amazed by just how much teenagers have identified with and enjoyed the show, but to me, it’s a no brainer. In the symmetrical world of television, Miranda — both herself and her show — are outliers in the entertainment industry. The show is silly and cheesy and sometimes stupid, but never at the expense of Miranda herself. She makes mistakes and these accidents made fun of, but she always recovers, and any insults are always thrown fondly, without any real malice. Miranda is a show that it’s hard not to feel fond of, which is exactly how I feel about the programme five years in.
Miranda is amazing not because of how its content is outlandish, but because of how it isn’t. Miranda lives a life that so many women experience, and yet never usually see on TV. Women are often graceful and nurturing on television, but how often do they fall down and make fun of themselves for it? How often do women, on television, get to garner the laughs? Increasingly, thankfully, more and more. But Miranda is a show whose hero is afraid to say anything sexual, lives to eat, acts mortifyingly around her crush, and is a character that deals with an overbearing mother figure, set on pushing her life into a direction that she is unwilling to walk down. In short: she is one of those teenage girls that loves to watch her show.
There’s this myth that, as we get older, we become markedly different people, and growing up watching fictionalized adults interact and talk, it’s hard not to believe that as a fact. But when watching Miranda, the status quo changes, and you can imagine yourself, at any age, be it sixteen or sixty, living her life. Miranda is such a monumental show not because of its humour, but because of its heart. Because of its hero. Because of how it never pretended to be smarter or more important than its audience. Miranda was and is a show about a girl that refuses to grow up into the ridiculous standards that were assigned to her as a woman.
And in doing so, she and her show present an alternative perspective on womanhood. One that, for the most of us, is just the norm.
So when Miranda announced in her final show that, “Women like me can be sexy, it’s just that the world might never affirm it, so it takes us a little longer to realize it,” it felt like a television milestone. She danced off, singing Aretha Franklin’s I Will Survive, and as she did so, it was a musical moment that had been years in the making, and felt so well deserved.
Sure, the flashbacks were a bit naff, and the galloping to her own wedding certainly was, but Miranda earned her happily ever after with the traditionally hunky Gary, because throughout three seasons and two specials, she was never anything else but herself. A message that teenage girls desperately seek in this world, but rarely ever manage to find.
As the eponymous character herself said, sometimes, the world just needs to be jollied. So thank-you, Miranda, for doing all of that and more. You’re a teenage hero, and for good reason.