A Millennial's Guide to 'Ab Fab'
Everything you need to know about the '90s British sitcom before the movie hits theaters Friday.
In this New Golden Era of Television, it’s hard enough to keep up with modern classics like Orange Is the New Black, Game of Thrones and The Bachelorette, much less to think about adding yet another show to our already full Netflix queues.
If who don’t have time to binge all six seasons of loudmouthed fashion favorite Ab Fab but are still jonesing to understand the show’s premise before seeing the film this weekend, don’t worry, we binged all the British comedic goodness for you.
Here, the Cliffnotes version of the BBC classic. Just add Champagne, darling.
When tuning in to the show, it’s key to remember that the pilot aired way back in 1992 on the BBC (the final season aired in 2001). This fact alone explains some of the cringe-y, un-PC antics (think — satirical jokes about Filipina maids and the gays, for example). The liberally-used laugh track is a bit jarring at first, but you'll get used to it.
Edina: An overly dramatic toddler living in the body of a 40-something woman, who — despite her frequent, full-body temper tantrums — also somehow manages life as a PR executive in the fashion world. You’ll never catch her without a glass of Pinot (or the occasional recreational drug) in hand. (Fun fact: Edina's over-the-top, self-obsessed character was rumored to be based on Lynne Franks, a real-life fashion exec who admitted to a chanting-Buddhist phase.)
Patsy: Eddy’s lithe best friend who likes to drink, smoke and bed men in excess. Half way through season one, we discover that she is also the fashion director at a popular women’s magazine, a role she earned by sleeping with the publisher.
Saffron (Saffy): Eddy’s straight-edge, bookish teenage daughter, who often plays the maternal role in their relationship. Smiling is not her strong suit. Neither are her shoes.
Bubble: Eddy’s incompetent, bumbling assistant who often makes her life more complicated rather than easier. She makes up for her hopelessness with her bubbly attitude — think Kimmy Gibbler, but Irish and with more eccentric style (yes, it’s possible).
Season one is your crash course into what should basically be called “The Sweetie, Darling Show” — because that’s what Edina and Patsy call every other character. Follow along as the pair get into high-fashion shenanigans, which often culminate with drunken late nights and mentions of checking into the Betty Ford clinic.
Several plot lines focus on stereotypical fashion topics: Weight loss, plastic surgery and being obsessed with their media image. However, given the heavily satirical nature of the show, Ab Fab appears as an early feminist foil to its contemporary sitcoms which painted women as idealistic housewives.
There are also some moments that are refreshingly relevant today. Comments on Jane Fonda's agelessness and health-conscious L.A. stereotypes (an Angeleno guru-type in season two holds "feeling circles" and stresses the importance of an organic lifestyle). Edina even wears a t-shirt screen printed with black and white boobs — a top that Vivienne Westwood currently sells for $150.
Notes: Keep Siri on hand to quickly search the names of British celebrities who, in addition to Ivana Trump, are often used as punchlines. Siri might also be helpful for researching some of the cultural references that you may have missed in history class, including key players from the Bush presidency (the first one) and the Princesses who were not Diana.
The cameos you'll care about: There are plenty of noteworthy guest stars on the show, but the ones you'll recognize without the help of IMDB (or your mother) include Naomi Campbell, Idris Elba, Elton John, Whoopi Goldberg and of course, Kate Moss.
Fast forward through: The opening credits. The flashing color blocked text may have been tolerable on a low-resolution screen (that was a safe 6 feet away back in 1992), but will induce seizures if you’re watching on your lap top. Trust.
But don’t miss: The episode when Eddie accidentally orders a Romanian baby.