Follow TV Tropes


Series / Flowers (2016)

Go To

Flowers is a Channel 4 Dark Comedy drama show about the Flowers, an anti-social family living somewhere in rural England called Heathen's Wood and just being weird. They are the overbearing but still somehow wet cloth of a mother Deborah (Olivia Colman), depressed and bored father Maurice (Julian Barratt), adult twins the slightly-satanic Amy (Sophia Di Martino) and mad-inventor Donald (Daniel Rigby) who have had to grow up in this mess, still live at home and are seen barely functioning outside as Donald tries to woo neighbour Abigail (Georgina Campbell) and Amy barely leaves her room, instead writing creepy songs (and more successfully wooing Abigail).

The series was written and directed by Will Sharpe, who also stars as the Japanese Shun, a family friend and Maurice's illustrator for his books.

The first series premiered in spring 2016, the second in summer 2018, with six episodes each. It is a comedy, but also a kind of romance between characters and mental illness — most specifically Maurice's "major depressive disorder" (depression), but implicitly others through Amy.

The second series is after an unspecified Time Skip, by which point both Maurice and Amy have cut their unruly hair, Donald has let his grow, Maurice is on medication and Amy's in a successful band. These are the most massive changes to the status quo, but Donald has taken on a day job, too. It also features Donald's on-off Love Interest "Fat" Matilda (Helen Cripps), and a bunch of Amy's multicultural bandmates.

Tropes in Flowers:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Donald to Abigail. Not only is he pretty weird around her and comes on super strong, Abigail is already seeing George and also likes Amy.
  • Actor Allusion: Daniel Rigby's character being called Donald after a lot of people likened his popular role in a Black Mirror episode to Donald Trump.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Abigail and George are actually a couple, but they pretend that he's her father which is plausible as George's much older (27 years for the actors).
  • Alliterative Name: Felix Flower, Maurice's father. From series 2, Bertha Baumgaertner.
  • Ass Shove: The girl Shun is sleeping with in series 2 likes to, for reasons unknown to him, put things in his ass during sex. He doesn't seem opposed, but confused.
  • Author Avatar: An in-universe example, Mr Grubbs of Maurice's book is obviously meant to be him, though he doesn't take a kind look on himself. As the book is all narrated, there's rarely a chance for Mr Grubbs to voice any views, which may reflect how Maurice feels.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Though Donald is outright awful to his sister, he is shown at one point to have tried inventing things as a child to make her happier, because he saw she was always sad when he was always happy and wanted to share it. He does go to check on her when Maurice asks him to, as well.
    Donald: Why're you holding my hand?
    Amy: To say thank you.
  • Bad to the Last Drop: Whilst all of Donald's machines seem to function as planned, most of them have no practical uses, except the "ubercaf" coffee machine. From Donald's face as he sips from it, though, it may lose that honour.
  • Basement-Dweller: Subverted in that whilst Donald and Amy are 25 and living at home in the basement and attic respectively, the basement has always been Donald's room and the attic has always been Amy's.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Amy is attracted to Abigail in Season 1, who's with George, though she also finds Amy attractive. Donald meanwhile also wants Abigail. She never ends up with either however.
  • Black Comedy: Most of the show, special note goes to Shun adorably recounting how his entire family died as he tried to save them in an earthquake.
    Shun: I discover my whole family, compretery squashed. So, nevermind. Get rittle apartment.
    • He is recounting the story to try to convince Carol & Carroll to continue publishing the Mr Grubbs books, and they just flatly say no.
  • Bland-Name Product: The Mr Grubbs book Maurice is writing seems to be a combination of The Gruffalo and Jabberwocky.
  • Butch Lesbian: Hilda, Amy's girlfriend in series 2 is a short-haired lesbian with a masculine clothing style.
  • Coming-Out Story: Averted. Amy very casually has her dad, Maurice, critique her writing and when he comments that love poems/songs can often contain phallic imagery nowadays, but hers is very subdued, she counters by saying it's for a girl. He gets no more awkward than he was before. Amy says she doesn't want to tell mum because then it'll be a whole thing.
  • Cozy Voice for Catastrophes: Every narration of a particular miserable moment, from a young Donald's voice about sadness, Shun bringing awkward charm to the destruction of his town and death of his family, to Maurice and Amy being particularly miserable in the present but having soft voices in the narration reciting their poetry.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Everyone could qualify, particularly with the revelation that the straighter Abigail and George are only pretending to be father and daughter.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Shun lost his whole family in an earthquake that destroyed his village. After that he found one of the Grubbs books which comforted him, and Shun working for Mr Flowers, the author.
  • Dead Person Conversation: There's a few interactions between Maurice and him imagining his mother, and a whole discussion between Shun and his entire family.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Amy and Abigail don't seem to get their happy ending, with Abigail being Put on a Bus and so supposedly will stay under the thumb of George forever, then Amy gets hit by lightning when trying to follow a destined to fail Rite of Passage in order to be with her forbidden love (don't worry, she lives).
  • Diegetic Switch: Deborah blowdrying her hair in a peaceful room, intercut with shots of the stormy weather outside, in particular a tree being blown in the wind, with the hairdryer whirr playing over them all.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The main group and setting of the show is a dysfunctional family who all have many different issues, and Shun, their Japanese guest who also has some himself. Most of the drama is drawn from the conflicts they have with each other.
  • Emotion Control: George exerts this over Abigail, manipulating her into being largely emotionally reliant on him and sometimes even metaphysically reliant on him, too.
  • Emotion Suppression: An extension of George's emotional manipulation of Abigail, he soothes her into believing that she doesn't like Amy, despite the fact she obviously does.
  • Ethnic Menial Labour: Shun, although somewhat deconstructed in the sense that he seems to be genuinely attached to the family and dependent on them, as they are on him.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: True to its genre, the series seems to convey the message that monogamy is boring, what with two open marriages and another swinger couple in the main cast. In fact, the only adult characters who don't engage in it are Amy and Donald, and they're not shown having opportunity.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Donald tries to pull this with Amy, showing their parents pictures of her with Abigail and calling her a "sideways Sally". Of course, Maurice already knows and Amy doesn't particularly care if her brother knows because she doesn't interact with him often. She'd also happily tell Deborah but had been worried she'd make a big deal about being happy for her (which she does), so whilst Donald's intentions were awful, it doesn't really work.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Donald tries to be one of these, though initially it seems like a cover story to get Abigail to like him because his "design" is a scribbled-in circle, though he does invent a mobile vacuum cleaner (a dust bunny attached to a toy car, basically a handheld vacuum cleaner with wheels that has less functionality than some real, albeit American, things, like roombas). He also has the "ubercaf", which he claims can brew coffee eight times as strong as regular machines using half the beans, and with the thick, dark, brew that comes out he's probably right.
  • Gigantic Gulp: In Episode 2, , Maurice gets a comically large cup of coffee from the hospital cafe/machine, which Deborah refers to as a "reservoir of coffee".
  • Gainax Ending
  • Hentai: Besides the illustrations for Maurice's books, Shun also does some sexually-explicit manga. On a massive board. When Maurice hasn't got Deborah an anniversary gift and she's clearly expressing that she wants one, Maurice tries to say that he commissioned Shun to do the drawing for her. She accepts this.
  • Hidden Depths: In series 1 it seems as though Amy is the only of the twins to have inherited their parents' talents, having both Deborah's musical talents and Maurice's writing talents. In series 2, Donald shows off that he has them, too, he just doesn't want to be a writer or musician.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: Shun speaks with a heavy East Asian accent, the source of humour not for its mispronunciation but instead for the exaggerated style being seamlessly woven in with such standard British voices. And it's intentional, as Sharpe's stint on Casualty proves he speaks perfect English.
  • Interscene Diegetic: In one episode, Deborah is listening to a tape of Amy's music. The song continuing into the next scene of Amy and friends recording music in the church.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Jane Hazlegrove makes a guest appearance as Sylvia, a widow to suicide. She previously starred on Casualty for many years as Dixie, a paramedic who for some time worked alongside Sophia Di Martino and Will Sharpe. Out of the two, she had more scenes with Di Martino as Polly (who died, as did Dixie's husband Jeff).
  • Kavorka Man: The Flowers are presented as rather plain in appearance and very strange and emotionally unstable in personality. Yet all of their neighbours seem attracted to one of them (though none to Donald) — George and Barry to Deborah, Barbara to Maurice, Abigail to Amy. Though it doesn't take long to realise that all the neighbours are varying levels of odd, too.
  • Lies to Children: The classic Father Christmas and similar lies were told to Donald as a child... and never un-told, leaving Maurice to suddenly remember in the finale of series 1 and tell him that the Tooth Fairy isn't real.
    Maurice: And the Tooth Fairy's not real.
    Donald: Why are you telling me that now?
    Maurice: I was going to tell you at some point but I never got round to it.
    Donald: What about Father Christmas?
    Maurice: Father Christmas is real. The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are made up, but Father Christmas is real.
    Donald: Only joking, I know he's dead.
  • Look What I Can Do Now!: Amy ended series 1 learning how to ride a pedal bike, having even struggled with training wheels on it before. She enters series 2 swerving around cars on a motorbike and flipping off Donald behind her as she goes.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Invoked but not ultimately done, as the show references it with Amy, who is mad, living in the attic, but she's not locked up, possibly the most reasonable in the family, and obviously she lives there out of choice and possibly practicality.
  • May–December Romance: Hylda, Amy's girlfriend at the start of series 2, is quite an aged priest, though she's supposedly pretty badass, too. The actresses age gap was thirty three years.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Maurice, plenty of people think he's sleeping with Shun, to which he assures them he isn't. He doesn't help himself when getting a butt massage from Shun, or when he says he sympathises with Amy when Deborah finds out Amy's gay (he meant that he also finds it hard communicating with Deborah).
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Maurice is one (or was). Amy seems to take after him.
  • N-Word Privileges: Brought up by Shun, who gets furious when he gets called "chink". He hates the Chinese. He goes on a tirade about how much he hates the Chinese, in a Chinese restaurant.
  • Only Sane Man: Abigail plays this part, ignoring her dramatic obsession with Amy and ignorance to George's complete emotional manipulation of her. Amy herself does, too, at least compared with everyone else, though she may be the only one who's literally insane.
  • The Ophelia: The obvious inspiration for Amy. She's unstable with long, dramatic hair, who frequently wanders around barefoot and/or in long billowing dresses.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Donald and Amy don't share interests and seem to not like each other. Or, really, they're neutral but don't really get each other so when something annoys them they blow at each other. Amy seems much more laid-back about Donald, just wanting to be left alone, whereas he can be quite mean to her both to her face and to other people, and it's implied this stems from the fact that for a lot of their childhood she was taller than him.
  • Pornstache: Donald grows one before series 2, which both Matilda and Amy mention.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: The grandma character is this, speaking very few words, which are usually nonsense. As with the trappings of the trope and genre, she also can accidentally uncover things that her more witty relatives can't. She does have dementia.
  • Secret-Keeper: Amy and Shun both separately become one for Maurice after he confides in them about his suicide attempt.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: A similar trope is used for Amy's frequent nightmare and psychotic sequences, which also employ washed coloration and overlaid image ageing to make the horror style more pronounced.
  • Shout-Out: The doctor who treats both the grandma and Amy is called Dr. Grey.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Donald sees one between himself and Amy, though it doesn't seem to exist.
  • Suicide as Comedy: The opening sequence involves Maurice trying to hang himself in the garden. He's so heavy that when he kicks the chair away, his body weight snaps the branch he'd tied the noose to, and he falls to the ground. It's shot to be somehow comedic, and there's other scenes later on where someone might find out that are played for laughs, too. However, it's ultimately taken more seriously when Donald becomes jealous of Amy and Maurice's closeness and makes jokes until she yells at him that their dad tried to kill himself, and he sobers.
  • Surprise Incest: Inverted. We're led to believe George and Abigail are father and daughter, which makes the fact that they have sex in the sauna a straight example. However, they're actually in a bizarre, possessive relationship.
  • Those Two Guys: Carol & Carroll, the book publishers, are seemingly the exact opposite of each other, but function as a unit akin to Mr Black and Mr White.
  • Time Skip: There's one between series 1 and 2, and another one between S2 E1 and S2 E2. This is particularly notable compared with the series 1 episodes being continuous, and in some scenes, overlapping.
  • Token Minority: Shun is a young Japanese man now working for Mr Flowers. He's the man of color in the main cast.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Abigail is a young black woman whom the Flowers family meets. She's apparently bisexual as well, being involved with a man but returning Amy's affection too. Abigail's the sole woman of color in the main cast.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Abigail and George get caught having sex in the sauna by Amy. It shocks her because she thought they were daughter and father.
  • Unusual Euphemism: “Feminist” for “lesbian”.
  • Vertigo Zoom: Used in the Hospital Gurney Scene to highlight Maurice's madness as it is used for his perspective watching his mother be wheeled into the building.
  • Visual Pun: Shun needing to urinate in the woods and saying "oopsy daisy" before beginning to piss on some daisies.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Amy/Abigail in series 1, Donald/Matilda in series 2.