Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything (Sky Comedy) sounds like it should be a novel. Actually, the novel it wants to be is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, which is also about a party girl who appears to be having the time of her life, but who is actually a hopeless alcoholic and drug addict in need of rehab.
Rosie Molloy is played by Sheridan Smith, in a role surely written for her. When we first meet her, she’s snorting cocaine off a gravestone at her brother’s wedding, then wakes up in hospital with her fake eyelashes still in place. Because this is a show aimed at women, Rosie is also addicted to sex, chocolate oranges and Baileys ice cream.
It’s a comedy with a serious message about addiction, but fails to get the tone right. Smith barnstorms her way through every episode, the volume turned up to 11, with the result that her binges are entertaining and the rest is not. Someone asks Rosie what pills she’s taking. “I don’t know, I got them from the vet,” she replies. As the episodes wear on, we discover the deep-seated reasons behind Rosie’s problems, but each one drops with a clang – none more so than when her dreadfully annoying flatmate (that wearisome stock character, the camp male best friend) listens to Rosie tell her family that she has lived a trauma-free life then says: “What about when you were raped?” Rosie shrugs it off, then we’re into some lame jokes and never hear about it again.
While Smith’s performance feels real, the character – created by Susan Nickson, writer of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps – often lapses into unbelievability. Improbably, Rosie is an accountant who reads Proust; she insists that she doesn’t need a sick bucket the morning after the night before by saying: “These buckets are not necessary for someone with a subscription to the Guardian,” but you’ve never seen a less likely candidate to be a Guardian reader.
Ardal O’Hanlon and Pauline McLynn play Rosie’s parents, reunited on screen for the first time since Father Ted. O’Hanlon has decent territory to explore: a loving father and sweet-natured man, he is in denial about his own behaviour and cavalier about his health.
The three leads make the show watchable, but there is no sense that alcohol and drug addiction do anything worse than make you mildly exasperating to family and friends. Rosie emerges from rehab at the end smiling beatifically and with a golden glow. We never see how the process worked.