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Showing 1-10 of 43 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 44 reviews
Everybody loves a good juicy comedy about how stupid and shallow the world of celebrity/showbiz is, but few of them have any real wit. One of the few exceptions is "The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle," a deliciously intelligent, razor-edged black comedy that pulls few punches... and even better, it has Jennifer Saunders as the love-to-hate-her TV host.

Vivienne Vyle (Saunders) is a daytime TV host who specializes in shows like "My Son Calls The Wrong Man 'Daddy'," overseen by her insane, frazzled producer Helena de Wend (Miranda Richardson). Then during a show, she's assaulted by a guest and a large security guard accidentally falls on her head. She also almost has a breakdown, leading a psychiatrist to be assigned to follow her during her work.

Having gotten a sudden burst of fame from her accident, Vivienne decides that she wants to take her show to the next level -- she tries to talk to the audience, has a disastrous interview with a tabloid reporter, wins "Best Daytime Talk Show" (only to ditch the awards ceremony), and suffers from an attack of "success." But being a host also means that her gay husband Jared (Conleth Hill) comes under scrutiny...

In case you're wondering, "The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle" is not merely a showbiz version of "Absolute Fabulous." It's more like "The Office" -- a witty Britcom without a laugh track or punchlines -- but instead of looking at the world of commerce, it's focused on the entertainment world in all its sleazy shallow glory.

And just about everything on popular TV is mocked -- the bottom-feeding themes, the stars insulated from "real life," the pathetic people who humiliate themselves on TV for a few seconds of vulgar fame. The dry sense of humor permeates the entire series (Jared's attempts to fix the plumbing) and there's plenty of darkly mocking dialogue ("Why haven't we started the production meeting?!" "Because you weren't HERE." "Does everything have to fall apart because I'm not here?" "You're the PRODUCER").

The main problem with this show, however, is that it isn't entirely sure whether it wants to be a dry comedy or a drama. Most of the time it's darkly funny, but there are stretches that are just bleak (Jonathan talking about encountering the children of junkies) or pure belly-laugh (Vivienne having a musical hallucination).

Jennifer Saunders is probably one of the few great comedians of our times, and she succeeds in making Vivienne more than a caricature. Yes, she's an egotistical, ambitious, bratty woman who sees nothing odd about having a fifteen-foot photo of herself wallpapered in her apartment, but somehow Saunders makes you like her despite that, particularly during some touching moments with Jared.

Richardson is gloriously ditzy, dizzy and eccentric, a career woman who's getting nothing done (her kid only speaks Spanish and thinks the nanny is her mom) and always looks like she just rolled out of bed. Hill is rather sweet as Vyle's insanely patient husband, although I never figured out why she married a gay guy.

"The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle" is a satirical, biting show that sometimes vacillates between drama and comedy, but is still deliciously warped anyway. Not a comedy for people who like pratfalls and silly faces.
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on April 9, 2013
Excellent. Yes, lots of the fearsome "f" word, but those who complain about it are missing the joke. It is a running gag! Part of the overall horrid nature of all of the characters, one might say. Saunders is just fantastic. Buy it and be prepared for some very edgy, very pessimistic humor from characters you can't help but hate. Not for kids!
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on June 5, 2011
I wasn't sure what to expect with this dvd. I purchased it because I have enjoyed almost everything I have seen Jennifer Saunders star in. This series was no disappointment. It's a morose comedy which follows the life of a talk show hostess striving to cope with her own life, which, at times appears to be as dysfunctional as the lives of her talk show guests. She is a vile woman; arrogant, mean spirited, selfish, and constantly stands in judgement of the people who come to her show for help with their lives. The writing and acting is superb, and it is always interesting to watch a 'show within a show.' I hope that there is another series.
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on January 15, 2013
This was a pretty good show. The first 2 episodes werent that great because I guess Jennifer Saunders wanted to set the whole story of her character up, but after the first few episodes the show gets really good. There are some extremely hilarious moments, dark moments, and heartwarming moments. It's really too bad it only lasted 1 season because I would have loved to see more.
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on December 2, 2010
I am so very impressed by this series.
These 2 writers have managed to create something that American Comedy used to do in the 70's; manage to obtain the holy grail of comedy.
Creating a show that is funny as hell and still have social relevance.

I loved Absolutely Fabulous for its' sheer wit and 'over-the-top' characters.
But this series manages to take a real topic, exagerate it just abit and show us how silly we can be as a species.
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on August 20, 2009
This is black comedy, a devastatingly funny, satiric look at "reality" TV a la Jerry Springer, with crazed guests and equally crazed backstage doings at a TV show. Jennifer Saunders is sensational, and all others in the marvelous cast are also brilliant. Each episode of the six can be enjoyed by itself, but it's best to see them all in sequence. The last episode is the best half-hour I've ever seen on TV.
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on March 10, 2016
I have always been a fan of AbFab and when I saw this I had to check it out. It' funny, but not as funny as Absolutely Fabulous series. But a good watch if you are a fan of BBC comedy and Jennifer Saunders and her work. She is Absolutely Fabulous. P.
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on April 4, 2014
Another example pf how UK television beats the cinema offerings hands down. Witty, clever and tells the truth about trash TV and manipulation of the viewer. We should be thankful for Jennifer Saunders and for those who backed her in this work.
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on June 18, 2016
I LOVE Jennifer Saunders - I would watch her in anything I must admit. She is hilarious and has an excellent supporting cast. Very funny, yet poignant message in this series. Jennifer Saunders is a comic GENIUS!
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on October 28, 2012
Jennifer came up with a good character! Vivienne Vyle. She is a talk show host with lot's of things to say to people. Lot's of f-words. Vivienne Vyle could go on forever. She is a character that is ballzy and offers her own view on different subjects. It does miss something! Other than that, you can really enjoy Vivienne! This puts american talk shows to shame!
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