Two years after the dramatic series three finale, Miranda Hart’s much-anticipated Miranda returned for two final episodes, airing over Christmas. For fans that have followed the show since its first series in 2009, the finale surely didn’t disappoint.
The series three finale concluded with the ever-unlucky in love Miranda receiving two proposals (much to her mother’s eternal joy). Unfortunately, the romance didn’t last long, and the first of the two-part special ended with Miranda and Gary deciding they weren’t meant to be. Whilst the first episode spent time exploring the relationship between the pair, it was largely written to set up the next episode. Although this intention was clear and the set-up was a little laborious, it was worth it to see the soul-searching pay-off.
One of the key issues with any sitcom is that it often relies on a character’s short-fallings to create comedy. Whilst this often succeeds in a show that is given a few series before it’s cancelled, many sitcoms fall apart when the writers fail to allow their characters to grow and develop as any person naturally would over the years (think Liz Lemon facing the exact same issues every series in 30 Rock). Miranda, however, hasn’t fallen back on this trope; whilst her gradual development and maturity hasn’t always been obvious, it culminated in the show’s final episode, where we see Miranda’s ever-present silliness come into balance with a new-found sense of self-confidence. Whilst many criticise Miranda for being too silly, relying on people’s ability to laugh at other people falling over, the show exemplifies the importance of women in comedy; Miranda’s confidence allows her to tell the characters around her – and, more importantly, the audience watching at home – that “women like me can be sexy”. Here, she speaks not only to plus-sized women but awkward, immature, silly women everywhere. It’s a genuine moment of female empowerment that resonates all the more because of our love of the character telling us about it.
The comedy of much of these two episodes came from subverting their own jokes – the appearance of Heather Smalls (and, in fact, Gary Barlow) was a ridiculous but lovely moment because it referred to a joke that’s run throughout the entire show. Unfortunately, the show rather unnecessarily relied on the old trope of ‘flash-backs’, perhaps to create padding. Whilst this is understandable, considering Miranda Hart has had a particularly busy schedule over the two years, it was a little disappointing. Fortunately, the rest of the show was packed with such strong, funny moments that it makes up for the fluffy filler. The second episode was worth watching if only for a pianist’s rather unfortunate choice of entrance music for Miranda, and the shock return of Clive. Considering Miranda has maintained a successful role in Call The Midwife, travelled around the UK on a stand-up tour, and started writing on her second book, perhaps the two episodes might have been weaker if she and the show’s other writers had stretched their capacity in order to fill two episode’s worth of content.
Despite the unnecessary flash-backs, my favourite aspect of these two episodes was their honesty. Without reverting to the usual sitcom failure of an over-emotional ending, there were some tender, honest moments with some truly impressive acting from Miranda Hart. Just like her character, Miranda Hart has seemingly matured too – and when she spoke to her audience at the end, it was in an honest thank you and goodbye to the audience at home. Dismissing the show and all the hard work that goes into it as ‘silly’ is the laziest of critiques; Miranda has been one of the few comedy shows predominantly aimed at women that has a genuine connection with its viewers, and creates content without needing to laugh with cruelty at anyone. It should be valued as such.