Avoidance: A Warm and Bittersweet Comedy Series by Hassaan Mohammad

July 29, 2022

This summer, a new comedy series called ‘Avoidance’ arrived at the BBC.

Avoidance revolves around Jonathan (Romesh Ranganathan) who splits from his partner Claire (Jessica Knappett), which his son Spencer (Kieran Logendra) finds himself caught in the middle of. Jonathan focuses on preserving his son’s happiness, but he realises the extent of the struggle when he comes to the realisation he has no home, nor any friends or ambition.

He takes Spencer and plans to run away but only gets as far as the home of his sister Danielle (Mandeep Dhillon) and her wife Courtney (Lisa McGrillis), a decision the latter particularly despises. As the series progresses, we see how Jonathan approaches the subject of the break-up with Spencer as well as ensuring that he’s not considered an outcast at school. This goes as far as Jonathan joining him for a game of laser quest with his classmates, causing trouble by insisting on cheating so Spencer can impress his classmates.

Courtney presents herself as having a hatred of sorts for Jonathan and his lack of ambition and general ‘loser-ness’ but her feelings towards him soften over time, particularly as her bond with Spencer strengthens. This leads to Danielle questioning the prospect of them having kids. This causes a brief rift between the two due to the lack of clear communication, which is resolved in the final episode.

Jonathan ends up shunning his job on a speed awareness course, but he and Claire find themselves bonding again in the penultimate episode as a result of his colleague asking him out. Jonathan asks Claire to ‘rescue’ him and they go for drinks together. This culminates in Claire asking for him back in the final episode, which he refuses as he feels that it’s better for them to stay apart as the atmosphere has been less fractious owing to them having separated.

Seeing Avoidance’s approach to showing the paternal response to a separation has been insightful. Despite the show being a comedy at its heart, there is the deft balance of the wry humour that British comedy is built on and the drama elements which add to the story. Avoidance did a good job of character development and giving us a clear insight into the characters.

The show was aired on BBC One and was dropped as an iPlayer boxset at the same time. I feel disappointed that the show appeared to fall to the wayside – not helped by airing in the summer without a supportive surrounding schedule but it feels particularly frustrating as if the show was a Netflix Original, I believe the response would have been greater. I believe that irrespective of exposure, that’s the fate that befalls plenty of shows.

Romesh Ranganathan’s star has only grown over the years and although this is not his first sitcom (having starred as himself in ‘The Reluctant Landlord’ for Sky from 2018-19) this feels more likely to grow and become a comedy hit.

Avoidance gets an 8 out of 10 from me.

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