There’s a heatwave going on, and cousin Cathy is coming over to visit.
Della doesn’t have the good china to dig out, but the guest does get to have a can of fizzy coke, a privilege not awarded to the rest of the family.
Cathy is immediately funny and interesting (‘She’s had experience of life beyond the postbox. That’s interesting,’ Aretha tells Germaine). Cathy is about the only thing she’s impressed by in this episode, although she would appreciate the social conditioning her mother is exploiting in order to have less Dora the Explorer on the telly.
‘They call you the freak family at school. On account of how you’re… freaks,’ Cathy tells Germaine as they sit in the sun for a regulated twenty minutes. Apparently there’s a whole raft of nick names for Germaine, including Lady Hagrid and Fat Winehouse.
Actually, Cathy remembers, she came up with Fat Winehouse. Cathy also remembers that everyone at school thinks that Germaine is the mum of the family. Germaine is horrified, Aretha looks up, mildly interested. Who do they think Della is, then? The hot eldest daughter, Cathy tells her. Aretha goes back to her book, satisfied. Makes sense.
Della, therefore, spends most of the episode jacked up with power tools and garden implements, looking very much like the sort of woman that Axl Rose would have written four stadium albums about in a vain attempt to win her heart, before finally giving up and choosing to live the rest of his life in self-enforced hermitage. She’s determined that the family become self-sufficient, and in six months, the place will be heaving with fresh vegetables, and then ‘Aldi can go fuck itself.’ Felicity Kendall never spoke like this.
Lee has also turned up, hurling even more insults at Germaine, calling her Big Fat Gyspy Wedding. She’ll take that, though: ‘It means he associates me with weddings,’ she tells an unimpressed Aretha. ‘And bare knuckle fighting.’
Cathy, however, effortlessly catches Lee’s eye, striding up to him for a chat, despite Germaine’s warning that ‘the last time I approached him unannounced, he threw a dog at me.’
Aretha is exasperated by the women of the family all being smitten by a boy whose underwear is more visible than his IQ, telling Germaine that her mind doesn’t matter: ‘Fearsome intellect doesn’t look good in shorts.’
Despite being three episodes in now, it’s still too early to say if Raised by Wolves will remain a set of comedy half hours, or has some kind of character arc in play. (If it’s the latter, it’s tempting to read a kind of Joss Whedon/Russell T Davies style story seedling in the throwaway reference to the library in last week’s episode: the potential source of Germaine’s salvation).
That said, we do get a bit of a coda this week. According to mum, the secret of life is to be two faced. ‘There are lots of things I hate,’ she tells Germaine. ‘Bill Oddie. A band from the nineties called All Saints’. The trick, apparently, is to say one thing while meaning another.
Well, we’ll say this, and mean it, too: Raised by Wolves is the sort of comedy to make you hungry for the second season while still watching the first.
Aired on Monday 30 March 2015 on Channel 4.
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