No one respects Pauline Paradise. And after all these years, she’s going to return the favour.
ITV’s new comedy drama Love and Marriage takes a look at how a family unravels without the thread that holds it together (in this case, the mum).
Pauline, a newly retired lollipop lady played by Alison Steadman, can no longer grin and bear her overly dependent kids and her mediocre marriage to Ken. So she uproots the family tree with a shocking announcement: She’s leaving.
On the surface it’s a typical story. The kids are grown and the dad is able-bodied, but poor ol’ Mum is still expected to “do it all” without any gratitude from the clan.
It isn’t until her retirement that Pauline realises how much time she spends cleaning up other people’s messes unnoticed. Her eldest son, Kevin (played by Stewart Wright), regularly borrows money from “the bank of mum and dad” without telling his wife, and he becomes even more desperate for wonga when his hours are cut at work. As always, it’s up to mum to save the day. And she does, at first — but later cancels the personal loan cheque.
Throughout the episode, you get the sense Pauline would be happy to help her kids, if only they’d stop demanding and start asking.
Then there’s their father, Pauline’s husband, Ken (played by Duncan Preston), who wouldn’t speak his mind if his life — or marriage — depended on it. “Your dad never says anything!” Pauline shouts to her kids near the end. And it’s true. After a late-night plea for attention falls on deaf ears, Pauline decides she’s had enough of Ken’s silent treatment.
It all culminates in the big ending that finally gets the story rolling. Pauline, fed up with her role as “household servant,” moves in with her free-spirited sister, Rowan (played by Celia Imrie), to become what she’s longed to be for years: selfish, impulsive and unattached.
This tale’s been told before, but not typically with this ending. By the closing credits, Love and Marriage is down one marriage and a fair share of the love. Pauline is her own woman now. And the audience is left wondering, Can the Paradise family survive without its matriarch?
We’ll find out next Wednesday.