"She cared far more about being funny and having fun than looking sexy or finding a boyfriend"BBC/DAVID EMERY, WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

I recently found myself stumbling down a friend’s stairs at about midday, so hungover I thought I might still be dreaming, and desperate for anything to lift my (non-alcoholic) spirits. I was greeted by my friends sitting in front of the TV, all laughing out loud, watching an episode of Miranda. Almost miraculously, my headache subsided, my fatigue disappeared, and I was instantly transported back to 2015. In the following weeks, I picked up where we left off that afternoon and rewatched Miranda in its entirety.

Revisiting Miranda Hart’s acclaimed BBC sitcom for the first time since the release of another one-woman cultural juggernaut, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, was an eye-opening experience. There are obvious similarities between the two shows, from the fourth wall breaking – which of course has a long history, dating all the way back to Oliver Hardy and Hart’s comedy hero Eric Morcambe – to the fact that both characters are awkward single women in their thirties. But there are also some far more specific resemblances: they both have a bubbly, blonde best friend, detached family members, and a small business they’re trying to keep afloat, not to mention the fact that both series contain memorably awkward funerals and tense family dinner parties.

“She navigates the world as a woman who constantly feels like an outsider”

I’m not arguing, however, that Miranda walked so Fleabag could run; the show has much that’s worthy of praise in its own right. Where Waller-Bridge’s work uses dark comedy to tackle more serious themes of grief and guilt, Miranda largely relies on situational comedy and farce, which might come across, to some, as slightly immature. Yet Hart’s genius lies in the fact that she uses this very register as a vehicle to create some genuinely touching moments. Granted, there’s a lot of falling over and cases of mistaken identity (which, incidentally, are almost always laugh-out-loud hilarious), but the overarching storylines of the show are about Miranda’s struggles to maintain friendships and her relationship with her overbearing mother, while she navigates the world as a woman who constantly feels like an outsider. If Fleabag represents the version of me that comes out at a funeral or on a first date, Miranda is reserved for when I embarrass myself at a family gathering, or find myself in a slapstick-style scenario with someone I fancy.

It’s true that some of Miranda’s distinctly noughties humour hasn’t aged well, with jokes at the expense of ‘transvestites’, and some jarring stereotypes about immigrants and working class people. Consider this brand of humour alongside the fact that similar shows from performers of colour, such as Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum, haven’t shared nearly the same level of success, and a 2023 rewatch might start to leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

"Consider this brand of humour alongside the fact that similar shows from performers of colour, such as Michaela Coel's Chewing Gum haven't shared nearly the same level of success..."

That being said, there are elements of Miranda that are surprisingly progressive, and had a tangible impact on me when I first watched the show. When I was at the peak of my Miranda obsession, I was one of the tallest girls at my primary school, I wasn’t skinny, and I was deeply awkward in a way that wasn’t always endearing, or even immediately obvious to me. I didn’t relate to any of the women I saw on TV, or even many of the women I knew in real life, but then I found Miranda. She was over six feet tall, she certainly didn’t meet the impossible beauty standards set for women in the 2000s, and she cared far more about being funny and having fun than looking sexy or finding a boyfriend. I immediately asked for a box-set of all three seasons for Christmas, and I watched it on repeat until I practically knew every line myself.

“Sometimes it actually is important that the girl gets the guy”

The series does sometimes use Miranda as the butt of the joke, and it’s difficult to watch her friends and family mock her for her size and her social struggles, but, crucially, she never lets that stop her. She stands up for herself again and again, defending her right to be exactly who she is, and have fun doing it. Even more crucially, this lifestyle doesn’t prevent her from having her fair share of romantic and sexual experiences. She goes on several dates, she has a boyfriend for a while, and she even gets the happy ending we all hope for from the beginning of the first episode. Contrary to the reductive idea that ‘I don’t need a man!’ is the only feminist approach to romance, sometimes it actually is important that the girl gets the guy. To let Miranda have a happy ending ensures that the joke is not actually on her – that we are laughing with her, not at her.


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The message right at the very core of Miranda is that, yes, she is awkward, and different, and not as stereotypically ‘successful’ as her peers… but she is hilarious, and interesting, and a good friend, and that’s actually what matters most. Relating to Miranda also doesn’t require the edginess and moral complexity of a character like Fleabag, which is perhaps what makes the series so timelessly and universally funny. Miranda made me feel a lot less alone as an awkward pre-teen, and, impressively, it manages to have precisely the same effect on me today.

Miranda is currently streaming on BBC iPlayer and Britbox