Hitmen | Peacock | 6 Episodes Available Now
Jamie and Fran (Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, aka Mel and Sue, comediennes and former hosts of The Great British Bake Off) are not great at their jobs. Jamie is a bit of ditz, and Fran is a bit stone cold. What do they do? Well, they kill people for money; no mystery there!
The ladies work for the mysterious Mr. K, with whom they only communicate via phone; they drive around in a cleaning van to pull off their various hits. Most episodes use the in media res trope of dropping the viewer into the action mid-job, with the women’s target already acquired, but before the actual ‘job’ is done. As you might expect, things never go smoothly, and the comedy comes from Jamie and Fran trying to keep a target, fix something that’s gone horribly wrong, or be professional long enough to actually carry out their task.
Tonally, while a comedy, the show is a bit uneven; sometimes it’s straight up comedy but there are also action sequences, gun fights, and legitimate dramatic moments. These women are hitmen, after all, so they do end up actually killing people. The stories are a bit predictable; after the first few episodes, you have a feel of what to expect. I never laughed out loud, but found myself chuckling at the consistent banter and the way Mel and Sue play off each other; Jamie and Fran’s friendship is so natural, you can tell the characters (and actresses) have been friends for ages, and they look to be having a blast playing these parts.
While some of the comedy is physical, the majority of the comedic moments comes from the way Jamie and Fran speak: to each other, about each other, to their target, about their target, about a job, about the other’s personal life (or lack thereof). They’re just best mates just trying to make a living, even if that living comes from killing people.
Jamie is a bit softer than rigid Fran; in the first episode she cuts out eye and mouth holes in the bag over her target’s head so that he can play charades with the ladies. In another episode, she amuses herself by playing pranks on Fran with a joy buzzer, a rubber fried egg, and a whoopee cushion.
Fran is generally much more no-nonsense, but does break down, makeup running down her face, when discussing her husband Joao: a never-seen-on-screen gay Brazilian man who she married so he could get a green card, and how he takes advantage of her. Fran does have a soft spot for dogs, as it turns out, to her detriment.
The two complement each other very well; likewise, the supporting cast does a nice job. There’s a ‘target of the episode’ – a person who usually doesn’t even have a name, just a title: The DJ, The Bouncer, The Accountant (Fleabag‘s Sian Clifford, easily the most memorable and funniest of the targets), etc. I have to assume the writers didn’t give the targets names simply to downplay the fact these are human beings that are being snuffed out, in this… comedy… moving on…
There is also Mr. K’s ‘A-Team’, Liz (Tonya Cornelisse) and Charlie (Asim Chaudhry), who Jamie and Fran sometimes call upon to help them out, even though they’re rivals. Liz = Fran and Charlie = Jamie; that basically sums that up! Liz gets in some funny lines when making fun of Fran and Jamie, but except for 1 episode, they don’t have much to do, unfortunately.
Here are some episode highlights, to get a feel for the show:
- Jamie convinces Fran to celebrate her birthday with a target in the back of the van (while waiting for Mr. K’s instructions); this includes party hats, noisemakers and McDonalds’ McFlurries from a drive-thru.
- When The Accountant has an allergic reaction to soup, and Fran and Jamie don’t know what to do, Jamie consults YouTube. #ValidStrategy?
- An escaped target leads the ladies around the woods while Jamie, who’s thinking of becoming a mother, tries to care for a hard boiled egg (who she’s named Pip) to show Fran she’s responsible. Meanwhile, Fran stumbles across a Brownie troupe and starts a sing along of ‘Kum Ba Yah.’
- The ladies, dressed as Simon and Garfunkel, nab a DJ from a wedding.
- A Russian hitman named Nikhil joins Jamie and Fran on an assignment; as the women are deciding who should be the one to give the other a ‘leg up’ over the wall, Nikhil comes back with a body.
This British import’s first season consists of 6 episodes, all under 30 minutes, and is a quick and easy binge. While I didn’t think it was hilariously funny, it definitely had its moments, and I liked it. The last episode clearly sets up a potential season 2, and I think if they do get to make another season it would change the show’s format a bit, and actually make it funnier. If for whatever reason you have a Peacock subscription, turn on those captions and give it a go! M