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Bittersweet Symphony: An Advance Review of Season Three of BBC America's Gavin & Stacey

There are some series that manage to wrap their arms around you and never let go, making you laugh and cry in equal measure.

British comedy Gavin & Stacey, which returns to BBC America for its third and final season after way too long of a break, is just one of those series, the sort that makes you laugh and cry in equal measure, filled with characters that you can't get enough of and whom it will be very hard to say goodbye to forever in just a few weeks' time.

Revolving around the titular star-crossed lovers, the series--created and written by co-stars James Corden and Ruth Jones--has charted their courtship and marriage over the course of three bittersweet seasons and the reactions of their friends and family to such an unexpected match: Gavin (Mathew Horne) is, after all, an Essex lad while Stacey (Joanna Page) hails from Barry, Wales, making their marriage a union of two nations, cultures, and life philosophies.

Season Three finds the pair struggling to adapt once more after Gavin has taken a six-month transfer to the Welsh office of his employer, moving him and wife Stacey in with Stacey's omelette-mad mum Gwen (Melanie Walters)... and promptly booting unwed mother Nessa (Jones) out of her bedroom and into the caravan her boyfriend Dave (Steffan Rhodri) lives in.

Back in Essex, Gavin's parents--the sensible Mick (Larry Lamb) and blousy Pamela (Alison Steadman)--attempt to adjust to life without their little prince, as does Gavin's best mate, Smithy (Corden), who just happens to be the father of Nessa's baby Neil. (Still with me?) Stacey's uncle, the amazing Uncle Bryn (Rob Brydon) is only too thrilled to have the couple in Barry, especially as it means fixing up his place into a bachelor's paradise so that Gavin's mates can stay over. Ahem.

This season, Gavin and Stacey have to contend with new living arrangements and the possibility that (spoiler alert!) they may not be able to conceive a child. It's a blow to Stacey, particularly in light of the fact that Nessa and Smithy--whose relationship has been constrained to a few one-night stands--were able to have a baby together. It's this tartness that's actually one of the more refreshing things about Gavin & Stacey, even as it tackles real-life relationship (and familial) problems, they never feel like force-fed "issues," but rather just layers to touching and often tender comedy. (Tidy.)

It's the rare comedy that actually reshuffles the deck with each season, reacting to and adapting from the plot twists that the writers have introduced. The fact that these characters evolve and their situations change, sometimes on an episodic basis, is what makes Gavin & Stacey such a joy to watch: there's real emotion and revolution in the DNA of the series. It's episodic and yet we're treated to a fly-on-the-wall perspective of living, breathing characters who are lovable because they're often so inherently flawed.

The ebb and flow of the series makes it feel absolutely real, as the comedy often comes from the history between these characters. While the third season marks the end of Gavin & Stacey, it's not impossible to think that life will go on for each of these characters. We, rather sadly, will just not be privy to them.

The result is an relationship comedy at the very top of its game, filled with eccentric characters and laugh-out-loud moments, a bittersweet symphony that will play on long after the final credits have rolled. You'd do well to head over to Barry before they do.

Season Three of Gavin & Stacey premieres tonight at 9 pm ET/PT on BBC America.


Blythe said…
This is such a weird, wonderful, brilliant little show. I am very much looking forward to the third season even though (sniff) it will be the last.
Jackie said…
Kudos to BBC America for showing Gavin & Stacey in the first place. It's one of the best shows on TV *anywhere*.


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