Acting icons Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi headline hilarious Britcom “Vicious”

With same-sex partnerships becoming more accepted in real life every day, it only makes sense that that would also be reflected more frequently in art. And the more such couples are seen through the lens of a film, or a TV show, the more it will serve to show that such couples are no different from male-female couples: They live day to day, they love and they bicker.


That is certainly the case for Freddie (Ian McKellen) and Stuart (Derek Jacobi), the protagonists of Vicious, a hilarious British series that makes its U.S. debut June 29 on PBS.

Freddie and Stuart have lived together in the same London flat for nearly 50 years, and upon meeting the couple, viewers may at first be shocked, hilariously so, at how they talk to each other, truly living up to the “vicious” of the show’s title. The barbs at each other (and toward others) fly fast and furious, with much of the acerbic dialogue courtesy of executive producer and writer Gary Janetti (Will & Grace, Family Guy). (At a press conference, Janetti said he had originally titled the series Vicious Old Queens.)

It doesn’t take long for a viewer to quickly be swept away by the farcical nature of the sitcom.

“To me,” McKellen said at the press conference, “the most enticing [play is] something called farce. And the only aim of farce is to make the audience roll around with laughter in the theater.”

The couple’s relationship is not the only source of humor in Vicious. Freddie’s arrogant belief about what a great actor he once was (and still is) permeates several scenes (as when he delusionally believes that Dame Judi Dench will stop by a party because they met once decades earlier). And Freddie and Stuart’s sex-crazed best friend Violet (Frances de la Tour) is a never-ending source of overconfidence and delusion herself, especially when she throws herself at new upstairs neighbor Ash (Iwan Rheon, Game of Thrones), a man decades younger.

Risque without being raunchy, and so over-the-top at times that you just have to give in to the rapid-fire interplay between the characters, Vicious is in the great tradition of the best British sitcoms, and is the funniest new series you’ll see this year.

Vicious airs Sundays at 10:30pm ET from June 29-Aug. 3 on PBS (check local listings).


Courtesy of ITV / Brown Eyed Boy Limited 2013