U. S. of Ab Fab

Eddie and Patsy
Sweetie, darling! I mean … like, dude.

Absolutely Fabulous is heading to the states! Again?

After Roseanne Barr’s aborted attempt to make an American version a decade ago, apparently someone else is willing to take up the dangerous, possibly career-chilling mantle of developing for an American audience a hit British TV show that only enjoyed cult status in the States. (There are so many. Do you watch BBC America?) Fox has bought the pilot episode of a new Ab Fab series.

Translating English to English, er — British to American worked for a while with some game shows. It worked with Harry Potter. It’s working with The Office, though it is a wholly different show from the UK original. But can it work for Ab Fab, a show that was so stuck in the moment and instantly dated that it failed to reinvent itself across five series even for its own adoring audience?

Apparently brassy boozers Eddie and Patsy will be living it up in Los Angeles this time — as ever under the disapproving eye of daughter Saffy. No word yet on casting, but we know Jennifer Saunders will be executive producer. Will the girls be American or British? Is this a new television show altogether? Or should we just think of it as Series 6?

I can’t imagine the cast is the same. They were getting to be a bit past their sell-by date even in series 4 and 5, which I think saw a general erosion of the concept and was genuinely less funny.

I have loved Ab Fab from the beginning. My friend first told me about it in 1994, upon his return from a year in England. They hadn’t even gotten through the original three series by then. I was a young-buck college freshman and hungry for gay, gay, gay — and here it was! I had the entire three-series set on VHS. Now, of course, I have all five seasons on DVD. Plus the specials. I adore it. It makes me all warm and gooey inside.

This clip goes all the way back to the first episode of the first series, but I think it is still my absolute favorite. You never want the party to end … but I fear that the longer the show ran, the more diluted, the less funny, the more bizarre it got. This contains some of the best lines of the entire show.

I love Ab Fab like I love ’80s music. It is classic, it appeals to my baser nature, it fills me with joy, and it is surrounded by a cultish enthusiasm. You had to have been there when it was new and relevant, when it was a phenomenon, in order to understand it and care about it. People just a few years younger than me, who have never seen a single episode, usually don’t care to. The accent is hard to understand. They don’t get the humor. And who are those celebrities they are making fun of, anyway?

(Sometimes even I have trouble with that one.)

But maybe those are precisely the folks who will go ga-ga for this new round. Who knows. For some reason, the idea of a couple of 40-something women, boozing it up in L.A., in complete denial of their age, their desperation and their destructiveness, doesn’t necessarily sound funny to me. It just sounds accurate.

Good luck to you, Ms. Saunders! I will certainly be watching.


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