Series / Vicious
Front L-R: Freddie, Stuart, and Penelope.
Back L-R: Violet, Ash, and Mason.

Ash: I want to have the kind of love they do one day.
Freddie: [enters] Where is that miserable piece of shit?!
Stuart: Right here, you walking corpse.

Vicious (originally Vicious Old Queens) is a 2013 Brit Com/Dom Com that originally aired on ITV. Starring Shakespearian Actors/nerd icons Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi, the series follows a wealthy-albeit-bitter gay couple and their friends.

The starring couple consists of Freddie (McKellen), who is a failing yet egotistical actor, and Stuart (Jacobi), who is still struggling to come out to his mother. The cast also includes their old friends Violet, Penelope, and Mason, and their young neighbour Ash.

Whilst the show is essentially about vicious old homosexuals sniping and insulting one another, the presence of McKellen and Jacobi affirms that it's better than it sounds. Also, despite the pilot receiving a mixed critical response, the show currently has a strong fan following. The first series had only six episodes, followed by a Christmas Special. Series two is currently airing after a long wait, due to the cast's obligations in other high-profile productions. Airs in the U.S. on PBS as of 2014.

This series provides examples of:

  • Ashes to Crashes: In "Ballroom", Freddie gives Ash his mother's wedding ring, the container for which doubles as the urn for her ashes, much to Ash's surprise.
    Ash: What's all that?
    Freddie: My mother.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Though somewhat rare considering how bitter they are, Freddie and Stuart occasionally invoke this to the extent they even act affectionate with each other on occasion.
    • Also invoked during the first series finalé:
    Freddie: You do know we love you all very much, right?
    [Everyone smiles]
    Freddie: ...RIGHT?!
    [They agree in fear]
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Episode 6 has a heartwarming scene where Ash is extremely nice to Violet, only for Violet to press him against the wall and make out with him.
  • Black Comedy: Stuart's mother carking it just before her son's wed and Ash and friends trying to hide it until after the ceremony.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Several rape jokes in the first episode. Critics were less than impressed.
    Violet: You let a stranger use your loo? What if he comes out and rapes me?!
    Freddie: (beat) Lets cross that bridge when we come to it.
  • Blatant Lies: Frequently Played for Laughs.
    Freddie: I'm quite certain I'm old enough to be your father.
    Stuart: [muttering] Yes, I'm quite certain too.
    Ash: My father's forty-six.
    Freddie: Ah! And so am I!
  • Book Ends: In the first episode, when Ash accidentally opens the curtains to the massive window in their living room, Freddie and Stuart both run back into the kitchen away from the bright light. In the last episode, after some (slight) defrosting and Stuart finally revealing to his mother he's gay, they're in such a good mood at their anniversary they decide to open the curtains again.
  • Bowdlerise: Due to the somewhat risky title of Vicious Old Queens, the show title was later changed to the shorter and milder Vicious.
  • Brainless Beauty: Ash has moments of this, such as not knowing how Freddie and Stuart can tell that he just came back in from the rain (as he's soaking wet).
    • Also Chloe.
  • But Not Too Gay: Surprisingly Averted; despite having the excuse that Freddie and Stuart borderline hate one another, the writers still have them occasionally displaying affection (and even sharing the occasional kiss).
  • The Cameo: Dame Judi Dench as herself. See The Stinger.
  • Camp Gay/Straight Gay: Stuart and Freddie respectively.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Penelope isn't all quite there and is often forgetful due to her dementia.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Freddie and Stuart considered this their end goal in regards to Ash. When he finally snaps and snarks about the Running Gag regarding him and Violet, Freddie's response was to give him a hug and say "About time, welcome to the family!" Mason lampshades it, saying it's sad they're going to turn the sweet Ash into a gargoyle like them.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: The normally dotty Penelope will have the occasional moment of clarity, often at the most inopportune time for somebody else. Lampshaded when people wonder why her memory is so vivid all of a sudden.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone but Ash. And even him, by the finale.
  • Dirty Old Man: Freddie and Stuart only first invite Ash in because he's handsome and young.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: When Ash comes into the nightclub soaking wet, a girl at the nightclub as well as the camera, Freddie, and Stuart spend a few moments staring at him.
  • The Faceless: Balthazar the dog is constantly sleeping in his basket under a blanket, but he's purportedly balding and teetering on the brink of death.
  • Famous Last Words: In "Wedding":
    Mrs. Bixby: Can I have a hug first?
  • Flying Under the Gaydar: Stuart's mother still has no idea that her son and Freddie are partners. Stuart has been telling her that Freddie is his "flatmate" for the last 48 years.
  • The Ghost: Stuart's mother. Until the finalé, when she attends their party.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Freddie ends up giving a speech to Stuart's mother that makes it very clear that, since he loves Stuart so much, only he is allowed to verbally abuse him.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Episode 5 concludes with Ash and his new girlfriend arguing and tearing into one another, to which Freddie and Stuart comment:
    Stuart: Do you hear how they talk to each other?!
    Freddie: Kill me if that's ever us.
    • Also, from the same episode:
    Chloe: I just don't see how two people in love can ever say cruel things to each other.
    Freddie: I was saying the same thing the other day to the piece of shit down there.
  • Insistent Terminology: In episode five, when discussing Violet:
    Freddie: You're lucky you're straight Ash, otherwise you get one of these women who latch on to you for decades and never let go.
    Ash: But you love her?
    Freddie: Yes. We like her.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Ash is Freddie and Stuart's much younger neighbor who befriends them after he moves into the flat above them.
  • Large Ham: Expected when the two leads are Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi.
    • World of Ham: Except for Ash, though he can have his moments. Freddie takes it Up to Eleven by being something of a Ham-within-a-Ham. While everybody on the show is hammy, Freddie's theatrical mannerisms means he's over-dramatic even by everybody else's standards.
  • Last Episode, New Character: Oliver appears during the final quarter of the series finale and provides a lot of Call Backs to classic moments, including the infamous "You remember our friend Violet?" gag and Freddie's appearance as a villain on Doctor Who being mentioned.
  • Manly Tears: Stuart in the last episode of series 2 when he goes to phone his mother, only to remember that she died earlier in the episode. His open sobs are devastatingly sad to watch, made even sadder by Freddie hugging, kissing and reassuring Stuart.
  • May–December Romance: Violet attempts to invoke this on Ash, but the much younger man is clearly not interested in her.
    [Freddie and Stuart discuss Ash]
    Violet: The one who was flirting with me shamelessly?
    Freddie: No, this is a person who exists.
    • or:
    Violet: You're sitting very far from me, Ash.
    Ash: (wide-eyed with apprehension) I know.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Freddie and Stuart spend the pilot discussing if Ash is gay, straight or even bisexual. He says he's straight, but that doesn't stop them assuming he's Armoured Closet Gay.
    • And again in episode 5:
    Ash: I wanted you to be the first to know. I think I might be—
    Freddie: I KNEW IT!
    Ash: love with my girlfriend!
    Freddie: (beat) Oh.
    • Eventually they get the message, sort of:
    Stuart: [after Chloe crashes their dinner party] Poor Ash.
    Freddie: Well he wanted to be straight, that what he gets!
  • Monochrome Casting
  • Mrs. Robinson: Violet to Ash.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Ash, relatively speaking, in comparison to Freddie, Violet, and Stuart.
  • Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted. The gay couple is over 70 and there was only one young, handsome gay man in the first series, briefly.
  • Noodle Implements: The only explanation to Clive's death is that he suffered horribly and lost a foot.
  • N-Word Privileges: This show probably would have been considered massively offensive were Ian Mckellan and Derek Jacobi not well known for being openly gay
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Done in "Wedding" to cover up the death of Stuart's mother.
  • Once an Episode: Every episode opens with Stuart talking to his mother on the phone, except for episode 6, where Ash answers instead.
  • Only Sane Man: Ash. Mason thinks he is this, but he's nearly as bad as Freddie and Stuart.
    • Averted sometimes, e.g Series 2, Episode 2: Stuart and Freddy start spending more time with another young man, and Ash goes full psycho.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In episode 3, Freddie has his minor role on Downton Abbey overshadowed by Ash getting a starring role in a small movie; as a result, he starts being nice to everyone, much to their horror.
  • Parental Substitute: Ash outright states that he considers Stuart and Freddie to be his parental figures rather than his birth parents (who are in prison).
  • Phrase Catcher: Stuart, re Violet every time she and Ash are in a scene together:
    You remember our friend, Violet?
  • Precision F-Strike: Dame Judi Dench lands one on Freddie in the first series finale.
    • Freddie lands one on Stuart (causing the studio audience to burst into applause) as both are fawning over their handsome personal trainer.
    • A brilliant one in Series 2 Episode 1: The whole gang spends the episode conducting an elaborate façade to fool Violet's sister, and when Ash's girlfriend finds out she loves it, rather than being freaked out. For a moment it seems no one is going to Lampshade the crazy, and then Mason steps up:
      Mason: You people are all fucking insane.
    • In "Wedding", Freddie asks of the dress Violet chose for the occasion, "What the fuck is she wearing?"
    • A rare application of the L subrating to the show's TV-14 rating happened to the finale, which includes an unbleeped instance of "dick" spoken by Freddie to Mason for his smart-alecky remark about his arm's appearance in a second Downton Abbey episode.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The Communards - Never Can Say Goodbye
  • Running Gag:
    • Every episode has one or two instances of Stuart taking a dreadful phonecall, and a Walk-In Chime-In or two from Freddie.
    • Freddie and Stuart being insistent that Ash is gay.
    • 'You remember our friend Violet?' (to Ash.) Lampshaded in episode 6.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Stuart's mother is still totally unaware that Stuart is gay, despite the fact that Stuart is in his early seventies:
    Stuart: Well, I hoped she'd have figured out our situation by now. I have been dropping little clues.
    Freddie: Yes. Like living with a man for 48 years.
  • Shout-Out: Many to Doctor Who, especially since Derek Jacobi played the Master and Ian McKellen was the voice of the Great Intelligence.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Ash and his new girlfriend, Chloe:
    Ash: She never drinks, isn't that right Chloe?
    Chloe: It's true. And nothing could give me more of a high that being with Ash...
    Freddie: Have you tried cocaine?
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Freddie career consisted of "bit parts in Rep and one episode of Doctor Who", according to Stuart. That doesn't stop him from acting as though he had, well, Sir Ian McKellen's career.
  • Sound Effect Bleep: The PBS broadcast version does this every so often, bleeping out the stronger examples of Precision F-Strike among other things.
  • Stepford Smiler: It's been hinted at that underneath Ash's cheerfulness there is a lot of emotional issues. He's mentioned offhand how he frequently wakes up screaming, and became so hysterical and self-loathing after messing up Christmas dinner that Violet had to slap him to calm him down. Considering how he says both of his parents were in prison (his father did 10 years for armed robbery after robbing a Domino's Pizza, and his mother went after running over her boyfriend.)
    • Not to mention how easy it was to convince him that he was "a monster" just after getting cast in a film, and how he stops while describing his last Christmas with his family and how drunk his mother was to say with great anguish "Why wasn't I enough for you, Mum?" before immediately regaining his composure.
  • The Stinger: The first season finalé ends with the reveal that Judi Dench wanted to attend the party, but since Freddie didn't leave a contact number or address, she got sick of waiting for a reply and decided she doesn't have time for his bullshit.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In episode 5:
    Stuart: Freddie's scared he's never going to work again. There, how does that feel?
    Freddie: I never said such a thing, and you swore you'd never mention it!
  • Take That, Audience!: Towards McKellen's nerd following:
    Violet: Will there be a lot of single men?
    Freddie: It's a science fiction fan club event; they'll be single but they'll be disgusting.
  • Timeshifted Actor: In a flashback in episode 5 of series two, younger versions of Stuart and Freddie are played by Samuel Barnett and Luke Treadaway.
  • Transparent Closet: Despite his mannerisms and being in his 70s, Stuart has yet to come out to his mother.
    Freddie: So, who were you squawking on the phone to just now?
    Stuart: My mother, if you must know. She was very distraught.
    Freddie: Why, did you finally tell her about us?
    Stuart: I'm waiting for the right time.
    Freddie: It's been forty-eight years!
    Stuart: And there has not been a right time!
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: In grand British comedy tradition, Freddie and Stuart are both self-absorbed, sarcastic, waspish grumps.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Happens to Ash in "Ballroom".
    Ash: Something feels wrong back there!
  • When I Was Your Age: Occasionally Invoked towards Ash by others due to the large age gap:
    Violet: Has anybody said you remind them of Zac Efron? [whispering to Stuart] That's a person right? Or is it a place? [to Ash again] Well I'm certain I know you. Have you ever been to Zac Efron? [whispering to Stuart] I'm covered either way now.
  • Vitriolic Husbands: With the occasional Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other.
  • White Dwarf Star: Freddie's acting career never really took off and his only claim to fame was playing a minor character on Doctor Who. He still sees himself as an award-winning actor with a trophy case.