Series: Absolutely Fabulous
is a British comedy series about the misadventures of Edina Monsoon (writer Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley
); two alcoholic party girls
who are so far over the hill they've crossed the valley and started up the next hill. Other major characters include Edina's elderly scatter-brained mother, her level-headed and long-suffering daughter Saffron, and Cloudcuckoolander
The series aired from 1992-1996, and then again from 2001-2005, with a few "20th Anniversary" specials airing in 2012. In 2013, Saunders was reported to be working on a movie.
It has won both Emmy and BAFTA awards.
It featured large amounts of crude humor, slapstick, alcoholism and drug abuse. The plots generally centered around Edina's attempts to jump onto the latest trend or to have a good time, Patsy egging her on and encouraging her bad behavior, and Saffron's futile efforts to rein in the insanity and keep her mother on the straight and narrow.
Due to Edina's (oft-neglected) career in public relations, celebrity cameos were common in the show, with some (such as Lulu, Twiggy, and Emma Bunton) becoming recurring characters.
The show grew out of a sketch on French and Saunders
, which featured an obnoxious, partying mother and her sober, responsible daughter
. This became the basis for Edina's and Saffron's characters.
Came 17th in Britain's Best Sitcom
Absolutely Fabulous provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adam Westing: Pop Singer Lulu and actress Twiggy are Edina's only celebrity clients.
- The Alcoholic: Both Edina and Patsy. The two do ridiculous amounts of booze and drugs.
- All Just a Dream: "Iso-Tank".
- Anti-Role Model: Both Edina and Patsy.
- Anticipatory Breath Spray: Idris Elba appears in the episode "Sex" and uses one of these. Unfortunately it's supposed to be a stiffening spray.
- Always Camp: The vast majority of fashion people Edina and Patsy encounter in their careers.
- Author Avatar: Ruby Wax would make occasional appearances as a high-powered fashion editor.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: If Saffy is particularly upset, Edina will often attempt to comfort her, although usually hamfistedly. Saffy and Patsy are also shown to care for Edina.
- The Bechdel Test: Passes easily.
- Beehive Hairdo: Patsy's trademark look.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Mother may seem occasionally like a dotty English grandmum, but look out. For example, when Bo was dismissive of being 40, saying it's alright, Mother inquires about her turning 50, causing Bo to have a near heart attack.
- Big Applesauce: A couple of episodes have Patsy and Edina visiting New York.
- Bilingual Bonus: The punchline of one episode is that Patsy and Edina have been staying in a run-down French cottage when they were supposed to be in a fancy chateau. Three times during the episode a French man tries to explain this to them. Any audience members who speak French will have figured this out about 20 minutes before the characters do.
- Black Comedy: Edina's treatment of Saffron constitutes full-on abuse at times and it's always Played for Laughs.
- Body Horror: In Edina's nightmare about cosmetic surgery.
- Brainy Brunette: Saffron.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Inverted. Saffron is by far the most moral character on the show. Edina, on the other hand, is what happens when the Bratty Teenage Daughter grows up and has children of her own.
- The series was at least partly born out of a French and Saunders sketch of this reversal.
- British Brevity: On for eight years total, only 36 episodes.
- Broken Pedestal: Patsy always looked up to her sister Jackie, who would push the limits of Hard-Drinking Party Girl further than even Patsy did. She is horrified to learn that Jackie is no longer one of these, and wants to start a home for stray cats and dogs.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Bubble, who takes this to new heights of incompetence. Edina keeps her around only because Bubble makes her look good. In the newest episode "Job" Bubble tells the new intern she keeps her job not because of what she does not know, but because of what she DOES know.
- Buxom Is Better: The only thing Patsy approves of regarding Saffron is that the latter has "quite huge tits". Bubble is also jealous of Edina's "great, big, pendulous breasts", while they only serve as reminders to Edina that she's fat.
- Camp Gay: Serge's boyfriend, Martin.
- Catch Phrase: "Sweetie, darling."
- And Patsy's curt, "Don't question me."
- "Yeah, cheers"
- Celebrity Paradox: Both Patsy Stone and Joanna Lumley are Bond Girls.
- The only "Bond" film Patsy's ever been in was ''Bond Meets Black Emmanuelle". Still counts as an Actress Allusion, though
- Cloudcuckoolander: Bubble. Occasionally Gran as well.
- Cross Over: Eddy and Patsy appeared in a Halloween-themed episode of Roseanne that first aired in 1996. Eddy and Patsy meet Roseanne and Jackie at a high-profile cocktail party in New York. Upon hearing about Roseanne's multi-million dollar lottery winnings, Eddy wastes no time in becoming Roseanne's PR agent and talking her into funding a plan to clone Jackie Kennedy using the method from Jurassic Park. It Makes Sense in Context...
- The context by the way, was the fact that Roseanne had (at the time the episode aired) acquired the rights to produce an American version of the show. This also makes the episode look like a Poorly Disguised Pilot; looking like Roseanne flew over Jennifer and Joanna to play Eddy and Patsy to see if the show's humor would fly in America.
- A flashback scene involves Patsy appearing as her supposed '70s self, which looks remarkably like Joanna Lumley's "Purdey" character from The New Avengers.
- Crosses the Line Twice: An in-universe example: Saffron writes a serious play based on her own life that's supposed to be a scathing attack on her mother's neglect, but instead becomes a hit comedy that everyone (including Edina) loves because the characters of Edina and Patsy are as ridiculous as their counterparts.
- Cultural Translation: The sitcom Cybill was sort of an unofficial Americanized variation; an official remake never got past the pilot stage.
- Roseanne had the US remake rights for it for almost a decade but sat on them after ABC told her, point blank, that for them to consider a remake of the show airing on the network, all references to drugs would have to be nixed and that much of the humor bowdlerized.
- Also High Society, another attempt to adapt the show for US audience with Mary Mc Donnell as a Edina-Expy and Jean Smart as a Patsy-Expy.
- Deadpan Snarker: Saffron and Patsy, although most characters have their moments.
- Death Glare: Patsy has a death sneer.
- Doomed New Clothes: Patsy's designer pantsuit in the episode Birthin.
- Drag Queen: In the episode "Sex".
- Also, when Patsy goes to New York City, a group of drag queens mistake her for one.
- Dream Sequence: Edina has had a couple of these, especially when under anaesthesia for a minor surgery.
- Almost the entirety of the episode "Iso Tank" is a dream sequence, as Edina has fallen asleep in her — you guessed it — iso tank.
- Dumb Blonde: Bubble. Became more and more so as the series went on.
- Embarrassing First Name: Patsy has a string of them.
- To be exact: Eurydice Colette Clytemnestra Dido Bathsheba Rabelais Patricia Cocteau Stone.
- All the Classical Mythology makes sense after seeing all the Flashbacks about Patsy's mother.
- Also, Eddie's real first name Edwina, which she changed to Edina to sound more exotic.
- Facial Horror: After Patsy's face-lift.
- Fashionable Evil: If Patsy has a D&D-style Character Alignment, this is it.
- Fag Hag: Edina claims that all her friends are gay. This isn't true. She is devastated to learn that Saffron isn't gay. Likewise she is disappointed that Serge isn't Camp Gay but Straight Gay, and instead adopts Serge's campier boyfriend Martin, who is all too happy to have Edina as a hag.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Ginger ale is substituted for champagne. A gag reel however shows the side effects of using real wine over multiple takes...
- Frozen Face: Happened to Eddy due to too much of a Botox-like injection.
- Gaussian Girl: In Patsy's fantasy of what she'll look like after her face-lift.
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Subverted in the 2011 Christmas episode with Sarah, having established she had been unable to visit Saffron in prison due to being sectioned (held for psychiatric care against her will) apparently due to schizophrenia, she makes jokes about prison sex causing Saffron to slap her. Sarah then runs away screaming "The voices have come back!"
- The Ghost: Edina's son Serge for the majority of the series. Whenever some important event occurred he was always "taking lava samples in Sumatra," or some similar scientific activity to explain his absence. Finally showed up for the special "New York" in which it was revealed that he was actually working in a bookstore in New York City all the time, and that the rest of his family had conspired to keep this a secret from Edina.
- Granola Girl: Bo (played by Mo Gaffney).
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Patsy. Edina too, but she doesn't do as many drugs or go to as many parties as Patsy. Patsy's sister Jackie used to be one of these, and she is distraught that Jackie isn't one anymore.
- Het Is Ew: Of a sort. Edina wishes Saffron were a lesbian because it would make her far more interesting.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Edina and Patsy. Patsy in particular seems lost whenever they are apart.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Saffron had one, which included being abandoned in the park, used to stub out cigarettes by Patsy, and more emotional neglect than seems humanly possible. Now that she's grown and still lives with her mother, she's undergoing a Hilariously Abusive Adulthood (though she has by now learned to fight back).
- Edina's other child, Serge, didn't fare much better. He loved his books more than anything in the world...so Eddy and Patsy set them on fire because "We were cold".
- Patsy had one as well. Her mother actively despised her, and the two were enemies right up until her death.
- Hollywood Dress Code: Saffron dresses mostly in conservative cardigans, Patsy wears dark, fashionable clothes, and Edina usually resembles an LSD hallucination. Bubble's clothes defy explanation.
- And Gran sometimes wears yellow rubber dishwashing gloves for no reason.
- Home Porn Movie: There's one shot with Patsy and Edina participating in an orgy back in the 60's. It mistakenly gets shown by Saffron in a school lecture hall instead of her own tape on genetics.
- Immune to Drugs: Patsy should have died years ago. Instead she seems functionally immortal.
- Impairment Shot: Sometimes when a character is drunk or stoned.
- Insistent Terminology:
- Saffron's daugter is named Jane. Edina refuses to call her granddaughter that and instead refers to her as Lola.
- Whenever someone asks whether Edina's house was in Shepherd's Bush, Edina would come in and yell "Holland Park! Holland Park!". The two neighborhoods are next to each other, though.
- It's All About Me: Edina is extremely self-centered. Even her PR clients abandon ship to Claudia Bing once they've had enough of her.
Twiggy: You're one of the most selfish, thoughtless people I've ever met! It's always you, you, you. You orbit planet you! You're your own moon. You moon yourself.
- Just The Introduction To The Opposites
- Lady Drunk: And how.
- Lady Looks Like a Dude: Patsy has been repeatedly mistaken for a crossdresser. The fact that she once lived as a man during the '70s may be a factor.
- Magical Defibrillator: In Cold Turkey a doctor not only uses one to restart Patsy's heart, but applies it on top of both her clothing and a blanket.
- Malicious Misnaming: Edina keeps calling Sarah "Titicaca".
- Mama Bear: When Edina finds out the professor flirting with Saffron is married and has four kids, she punches him in the face.
- Must Have Nicotine: Patsy spends an episode secretly sticking nicotine patches on (non-smoker) Saffron, who spends the rest of the episode craving cigarettes and not knowing why.
- My Beloved Smother: The reason Serge moved out is because Edina was one of these. Quite literally, as she often would hold Serge so tightly to herself he would almost suffocate.
- My Life Flashed Before My Eyes
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Edina, who will jump on any fad known to man, but is especially fond of anything that reminds her of her teenaged years in the '60s.
- Not So Different: In one episode, Edina and Saffron make the same snarky comment about Patsy in unison, then stare at each other in horror.
- Older Than They Look: An episode featured Patsy's estranged sister who claims to be the younger of the two. At the end of the episode she reveals that she is actually 72. Patsy is horrified: "Then how old does that make me?!" In the audio commentary for one episode, Jennifer Saunders theorizes that Patsy has so many chemicals in her body that she is somehow preserved like a mummy. Eddy lampshaded it in-show, too.
Eddy: She's a testament to the power of prescription drugs!
- The 2011 Christmas episode established that Patsy is well over 60, as she has thousands in back payments on her pension. The two went to school together because Patsy didn't start attending school until she was much older.
- Only Sane Man: Saffy is the only responsible person in her household. It always falls on her to clean up after Eddy and Patsy's antics, as well as the problems caused by Bubble, Marshall, and Bo.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Everyone is shocked and flabbergasted when Patsy (who lives on a diet of drugs and booze, and hasn't eaten since The Seventies) actually asks for a little slice of turkey at Christmas. They pass it over in silence and watch as she actually eats it. Then promptly chokes.
- Outdated Outfit: Everything Edina owns, although she is convinced it's the height of fashion.
- Pet the Dog: Eddy has a few moments, like when she buys Saffron a kitten to replace the one she lost years ago, or when she tries to comfort Saffron for feeling like a bad mother by telling her that "everything is [Edina's] fault, darling!"
- Raging Stiffie: Except what's stiff is someone's tongue.
- Real Song Theme Tune: "This Wheel's on Fire", which was purposely re-recorded by Julie Driscoll for the show. Later series has it performed by Debbie Harry of Blondie.
- Rich Bitch: Edina may qualify, although she also tends to hate this sort of character.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Edina. Her ex-husbands cut her off at one point when they find out she has been scamming them for years, and she fears becoming poor. But it turns out that even without them she's still wealthy — Saffy just lets her think she'll be poor to teach her a lesson. Doesn't work.
- Road Trip Across The Street: Edina and Patsy get into a car to go to a spa, which is only on the other side of the road.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Edina. Much of what she wears is genuine designer clothing, she just tends to pile it on thoughtlessly with no sense of proportion or restraint.
- Running Gag: Edina falling out of her car. And down the stairs to the kitchen.
- Screaming at Squick: Saffron and Edina run screaming to the other end of the kitchen when Patsy casually breaks her wrist. Their squick continues when she jabs herself with one of the syringes of whatever cocktail of drugs she always carries around in her purse.
- Screaming Birth
- Shout-Out/Take That: Marshall and Bo's fraudulent televangelism is reminiscent of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and the PTL Club scandal.
- Sitcom Archnemesis: Claudia Bing for Edina.
- Skyward Scream: After getting locked out of a Stella McCartney shop because of being unable to figure out which way the door opens, Edina faces the sky, thrusts out her arms, and yells "Stellaaaaaaaaa!"
- Slapstick Knows No Gender
- The Snark Knight: Saffron, and how!
- Spinoff: Almost. A series based on the popular recurring character Bo (girlfriend and later wife to Edina's ex-husband, Marshall) has been proposed on several occasions. Although new rumors surfaced occasionally, it never quite happened.
- Straight Gay: Edina's son, Serge. Much to her dismay, as she wanted him to turn out to be a Camp Gay.
- Edina's ex-husband Justin also qualifies.
- Studio Audience: Most episodes of the show were filmed in front of a live audience, save for the various scenes filmed on location.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Patsy once spun a sob story about her miserable childhood to persuade Saffron to do her a favor. It worked and Patsy was quite smug, until Edina reminded her that the story was true.
- Theme Naming: A real life example - all five of the show's main cast members have had forenames beginning with the letter J.
- Theme Tune Cameo: Edina gets a karaoke machine for her 40th birthday, and the episode ends with her and Patsy singing a duet of "Wheels on Fire".
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Marshall and Bo.
- Troll: Gran often does this verbally. Since she's the epitome of matronly British granny, it's often a shock.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: Saffron sets up a Menopausals Anonymous meeting for Edina and Patsy. Naturally, neither want any part of it.
- Ultimate Job Security: Patsy got her job as the editor of a fashion magazine by sleeping with the publisher, and the position requires so little of her that she shows up there only a couple of times a year, and even then only to claim free clothes and other giveaways. It takes the magazine going out of business to dislodge her from it, and she immediately gets another job at a high-fashion store which requires even less work on her part, as it actively discourages customers.
- The Unfavourite: Edina seems at times to actively hate Saffron, while pining for her son Serge. Subverted when he finally makes an appearance and it turns out he may have had an even more Hilariously Abusive Childhood than Saffron, and fled to the other side of the globe to escape her, having the rest of the family lie about his whereabouts for years.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Edina has a seemingly endless series of fashion atrocities.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Edina and Patsy.
- Visit by Divorced Dad: Edina has two ex-husbands, and a child by each of them. Both became recurring characters and visited frequently.
- Wham Line: Saffron announces "I'm pregnant!" to both Edina and her boyfriend John. Hilariously, they both act the same way, at first being very stunned then advising Saffron to tell people beforehand just so they won't think she's fat.
- White-Dwarf Starlet: Patsy, and how. She thinks of herself as a model - when asked to model, she's horrified to learn she's supposed to represent a late middle-aged model (ranking just below one of the elderly models.)
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Edina wishes Saffron would drink, do drugs, and have tons of sex. Or, failing that, be gay. She gets a Hope Spot when she learns Serge is gay, but he turns out to be just as boring as Saffron.
- She's startled and delighted when Saffron speaks fluent French. (Saffron points out that she put her in those classes in the first place - what did she think would happen?)
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: When Edina finds some alcoholic cider in Saffron's bag, Saffron says, "Look, don't be happy or pleased or anything!"