41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
The Day the World Changed, yeah?,
This review is from: Nathan Barley: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Nathan Barley is Chris Morris's (and co) hilarious sitcom that revolves around the life of self-obsessed new-media idiots and in particular, the titular character, a shallow, narcissistic individual who has no talent except for self-promotion but believes he is at the cutting edge of 'something'.
The soul of the programme is Dan Ashcroft, a features writer for vacuous style magazine Sugar Ape. Dan thinks his colleagues are all idiots but they think he is deeply insightful; this is the essence of Dan's own personal hell: every attempt he makes to escape only further impresses the colleagues which he despises, plunging him deeper into his inescapable nightmare.
If all of this sounds rather serious, it isn't - it's hilarious. While Dan is the heart of the show, Nathan Barley provides most of the plentiful laughs. Nathan's pitiful attempts to be too-cool-for-school and his blinding lack of self-awareness are the stuff of comedy gold. The incidental characters are all superbly well played, too; a special shout-out for the always outstanding Kevin Eldon, who has a fantastic turn as a none more wierd depressed barber.
Some critics have dismissed this show as having missed the boat: "It's so 1999!" However, it is just that kind of 'I'm with it, you're not!' attitude that the sitcom is parodying. Others criticised the show by claiming that if you didn't live or work in new-media in London, then you wouldn't understand the show. This is simply not true, anymore than saying that you have to be in the mafia to appreciate The Sopranos, or work in government to understand The West Wing.
If The Office represents the gold standard for U.K. sitcoms, then Nathan Barley can certainly stand alongside on the same podium. Whereas The Office is going for an inobtrusive, observational approach to comedy, Nathan Barley is going for a heightened, stylised feel, which is appropriate to the material. In short, this is a great, fresh show that, whilst it is not cut from the same cloth as Chris Morris's superb previous efforts, The Day Today or Brass Eye, still retains a distinctive style quite apart from anything else on the fool's lantern.