‘Big Mood’ review: A brilliant dramedy that captures friendship and mental health in all its messiness from Mashable

“God, if I could finally get a big Le Creuset, things might really turn around for me.”

It’s a lofty, quick fix pitched by Nicola Coughlan’s Big Mood character Maggie, in a depressive episode sitting on the couch on her 30th birthday. And reader, there is no way I haven’t had that thought myself.

Written and created by playwright Camilla Whitehill, Big Mood navigates friendship and mental health, in particular the nuances of bipolar disorder and unprocessed grief. But it’s also really fucking funny. As the show’s core best friends, Bridgerton/Derry Girls star Coughlan and It’s a Sin star Lydia West are utterly brilliant, embodying Whitehill’s poignant, pop culture-seasoned script and delivering vulnerable, hilarious, and often justifiably infuriated performances.

With director Rebecca Asher at the helm, who’s worked on everything from Dead to Me to Grace and Frankie, Big Mood is the type of show that allows women in their 30s to be gloriously flawed, to mess up and apologise, to be silly and joyous, to suddenly have to take your health seriously and work through life’s unexpected garbage while screaming Avril Lavigne’s “Nobody’s Home” in the car with your best friend.

What is Big Mood about?

🎶She wants to go hooooome but nobody’s home🎶
Credit: Channel 4

Set in London, the series hinges on best friends Maggie (Coughlan) and Eddie (West), taking on a new decade of their lives and all the social expectation that comes with it. They’re the type of BFFs who dream up Love Actually themed parties down to the detail. They eat gummies and day-drink tequila at a pagan Ostara festival in the woods. They’ve seen each other wearing adult diapers during headliner sets at Bestival. But they’re not impervious to the challenges of friendship, as the events of Big Mood attest.

Maggie is an ambitious playwright turning 30, who’s trying to keep her agent happy while experiencing both manic and depressive episodes associated with her bipolar disorder. Eddie, a no-filter bar manager, is struggling to keep her late father’s rat-inhabited Hackney pub afloat — the viscerally named Wet Mouth. She’s running it with her brother Jay (The Midwich Cuckoos‘ Ukweli Roach) and one pretty lousy staff member: The Witcher‘s Eamon Farren as the privileged son of an earl somehow named Klent, stealing most of his scenes with a “there are no small parts” mentality.

Together, Eddie and Maggie face some genuinely tough moments, especially when Eddie’s manipulative ex Jonah (Slow Horses‘ Max Bennett) rampages back into her life after his “discovery journey”. Through these challenges, Big Mood focuses on how friends respond to each other’s needs, for better or worse.

Big Mood compassionately unpacks mental health and friendship

That’s friendship.
Credit: Channel 4

Like its lauded British contemporaries Aisling Bea’s This Way Up, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, Phoebe Waller Bridge’s Fleabag, Daisy May Cooper’s Am I Being Unreasonable?, and Lucy Prebble and Billie Piper’s I Hate Suzie, Whitehill’s Big Mood allows its leading women to be complex, flawed, and dynamic, doing their best to figure it all out under the weight of societal expectation and unprocessed trauma. Finding light in the darkness takes a bloody miracle, and these shows nail it.

Particularly akin to Bea’s This Way Up and its compassionate portrayal of mental health, Big Mood shows Maggie’s experience with bipolar disorder seeing her mood moving between euphoric highs and emotional lows. Here, Whitehall’s script bestows Maggie with frank relatability and frustration, as she tells her psychiatrist, “I wish I could think my way out of my bipolar disorder, I wish I could use a meditation app or go for a walk or use an expensive vitamin regime and be grand. But I can’t.” Maggie often goes to creative lengths to to avoid addressing her health. Throughout the series, she gets through episodes of mania and depression, then begins to experience hallucinations and dissociative moments. She furiously googles schizophrenia and spends a lot of time intensely focused on Ron Howard’s film A Beautiful Mind. A series highlight, episode 6 is a brilliantly edited and performed analysis of Maggie’s growing disconnection with time and memory, and Coughlan is straight-up spectacular in this final chapter.

Not relegated to a support role by any means, Eddie has her own mental health to navigate, burying her unprocessed grief and finding herself back in an emotionally and financially manipulative relationship with her toxic ex. Knowing the lengths women will go to to be “polite”, it’s deeply refreshing to see West let loose as Eddie, telling people to “eat shit” right to their faces. Throughout the series, Eddie is notably lambasted by the men in her life for supporting Maggie, who they tend to demonise. Here, the show does make a point to show Eddie’s steadfast care for her best friend through her complex mental health journey, however, West’s character isn’t required to be an all-time hero here. Eddie gets frustrated and doesn’t understand Maggie’s perspective every time, and the pair both struggle to genuinely ask for help when they most need it (or are in the right headspace to give it).

Big Mood‘s script is hilariously pop culture smart

“Why does everything cost money and why don’t we have cheat codes like in ‘The Sims’?”
Credit: Channel 4

Heaving with pop culture and Young Millennial references, Whitehill’s script feels authentic, hilarious, and modern — it’s not quite the reference-a-minute we know and love from Gilmore Girls but it’s fast paced and lands every time. Maggie’s aforementioned lament over her lack of Le Creuset is delivered by Coughlan without an ounce of irony. You’ll want to scramble to write down some of Whitehall’s more audacious lines:

“The fuckboy pound has become surprisingly strong since they all became social media managers.”

“You look weird. Have you been at a new money wedding?”

“Why does everything cost money and why don’t we have cheat codes like in The Sims?”

Like our favourite Stars Hollow residents, Maggie and Eddie use their obsession with pop culture as weapons; in episode 1, Eddie introduces herself as “Adele Dazeem, Maggie’s publicist” with nobody blinking an eyelid. But Whitehill doesn’t just bolster Maggie and Eddie’s bond through these relatable quips, also wielding humour and lightness to guide the characters and the audience through some major conversations around mental health with relatable realism.

As a compact but impactful series, Big Mood approaches the experiences of friendship and mental health with empathy and crisp comedy, with West and Coughlan on top of their game. At just six episodes, we want much, much more of Big Mood.

How to watch: Big Mood is now streaming on All4 in the UK and Tubi in the U.S.

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, please talk to somebody. You can reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988; the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860; or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. In the UK, contact the Samaritans free on 116 123. In the U.S., text “START” to Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. ET, or email info@nami.org. If you don’t like the phone, consider using the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Chat at crisischat.org. Here is a list of international resources.

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