Showtime currently has a bunch of new shows. Newbies SMILF and White Famous are dropping new episodes every Sunday, paired with veteran Shameless. But, did you know there’s another new comedy on the network called Ill Behaviour? Well, you should know about Ill Behaviour. Not only for its bonkers premise — a newly-rich recent divorcee hatches a plan to kidnap his best friend as a way for force cancer treatment on him — but because the British comedy will introduce you to Nadia, a new character for the books. Nadia is played by none other than Mean Girls’ Lizzy Caplan, who’s performing at her hyper-competent, no-effs-to-give best.
Within about a minute of meeting Nadia, we know she’s nothing like the soppy, ice cream-chugging Joel (You’re The Worst’s Chris Geere), whose marriage of 10 years has just imploded, leaving him with a $2 million divorce settlement. During Joel’s first date with Nadia, he tries to put a nice spin on the fact his friends hated his ex-wife. “They pointed out what a psycho you’d married?” she deadpans between taking large sips out of her red wine glass. Soon enough, Nadia, a doctor, explains of her own controlling ex, “He was convinced I was sleeping around on him, which, I mean, I was sleeping around on him. But still.” Nadia isn’t interested in whether or not she is that accursed word all women characters are asked to be: likeable.
Nadia’s complete disinterest in being likeable is what leads us to Ill Behaviour’s first sex scene, which stands out among the many boundary-pushing sexy moments populating television lately. What makes this feel different isn’t the fact Nadia is the one who urges Joel to drop his craving for wild boar ragout in favour of “dirty, filthy sex” in a restaurant bathroom — thankfully, TV women have been straightforward about their desires for years.
No, what makes this different is the sex itself. With Joel sitting down on the loo, this is a British show after all, Nadia does her thing on top until she finishes. “That’s it,” she apathetically says, facing away from her date; it is the funniest, least enthusiastic way a woman has ever orgasmed on television. Because, hey, not everyone is a screamer. Now that Nadia is done, she wipes herself, hops up, and leaves. No, Joel did not finish, but there’s “plenty of loo paper” to help with that problem, Nadia tells him before peacing out to do her job. Men might want to criticise Nadia with accusations of blue balls, yet, Joel has no complaints. The single guy just wants to do the whole thing over again.
Although Joel is technically the hero of this story, it’s Nadia who is the antihero. After Joel finds out his best friend Charlie (Caplan’s real-life husband Tom Riley) has Hodgkin's lymphoma and is refusing chemotherapy, he understandably freaks out, since Charlie could die without it. Naturally, Joel tracks oncologist Nadia down and follows her home, which is obviously creepy. Nadia recognises as much, and shoos Joel away, even after he describes Charlie’s dire situation. The doctor claims she has “company” over, but she actually just wants to return to her evening of porn-watching, beer-drinking, and marijuana-smoking. This doesn’t surprise us, since oncologist Nadia ended her aforementioned bathroom hookup with Joel by doing an unapologetic bump of cocaine.
While no one wants to think about an on-call doctor’s consistent tendency to use mind-altering substances, this is the exact kind of behaviour we’re used to seeing television’s most celebrated male antiheroes dive into. If we could all support Walter White (Bryan Cranston) for filling the Southwest with crystal meth, we can handle a cocaine-dabbling fictional woman doctor. Of course a real one should get tossed in jail for snorting before the job, but this isn’t reality.
While Nadia is clearly the queen of the Ill Behaviour proceedings, it is worthwhile to consider just how crazy the British import actually is. Joel and his friend Tess (Jessica Regan) are rightfully shocked when Charlie repeatedly insists he’s going to beat lymphoma with “alternative treatments” like juice fasts, acupuncture, and mango-passionfruit enemas, as opposed to chemotherapy, which Joel keeps screaming has a 94-percent effectiveness rate at eradicating his friend’s specific form of cancer. Charlie ignores everyone to the point where you can’t tell if he’s a simple stubborn conspiracy theorist, blissfully unaware he’s putting his life on the line, or so paralysed by the existential fear of dying, avoidance of the facts is the only way he can cope. A late-in-the-episode conversation about Charlie's mom hints fear is driving his unexpected choice. Whatever Charlie’s reasons, Joel and Tess decide to kidnap their mate for a three-month period to cure him. Of course, Nadia has a “grey”-market connection.
Thankfully, the Ill Behavior episode 2 trailer promises Nadia isn’t going anywhere amid this harebrained scheme, since someone needs to administer the chemo without opening up one of Charlie’s arteries. And, it’s not like she’s going to get any more likeable in an abduction scenario. “He’s already got cancer,” the doctor admits, lighting up a cigarette.
Never change, Nadia, never change.
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