Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Season 22 Highs and Lows

Season 22 of Ros na Rún was full of thrills, chills, and mass projectile vomiting, and with the season 23 premiere less than a month away, it’s a good time to look back on the past year and relive some of the biggest storylines, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Which characters had the best stories, which did the best they could with what they had to work with, and which got saddled with story clunkers? Let’s look back together, using a Homer Simpson scale of “Woohoo!” for the best and “D’oh!” for the, errr, rest, and also share some thoughts on what we hope to see next season!

(Note: remember I am not talking about the characters or actors I like or dislike, but rather about the characters whose storylines worked or didn't work for me in season 22!)


TADHG/FRANCES. I’m lumping these two together because the season’s biggest, craziest, and best storyline intertwined them so thoroughly there’s no point in trying to tease them apart. I am, of course, talking about Áine’s ill-fated trip to Tayto Park. No, no, obviously I’m talking about the Tadhg/Maggie/OH MY GOD SHE’S HIS SISTER madness. It was a storyline that went right up to the edge of the cliff, coughed over the side while listening to some old-timey records, and then pulled back just before it toppled over into the Sea of Ridiculousness, thanks mostly to some sensitive writing, beautiful performances, and the windmill-induced Greek tragedy of it all. I can’t wait to see what happens next for them now that Maggie’s out of the picture, and while at heart I’m a hopeless romantic who wants Tadhg and Frances to end up together, I also think he’s got a bumpy road ahead of him because she’s not going to make things easy. The qualities that made her an excellent partner for Tadhg, both “romantic” and “in crime,” will also make her a dangerous adversary, and once she finds out he’s also been literally hiding money around the house to keep from having to give her her fair share, he may wish fatal asthma were contagious.

FIA. Season 22 will be remembered as the season in which Fia lost her damn mind, and we loved every minute of it. Her year truly did veer back and forth between the sublime and the ridiculous, but she certainly gave us one of the season’s most scream-at-the-TV-in-horrified-delight highlights, which started with Máire walking in on her having sex with Pól, continued with the two women chasing each other down the street while pushing Liam Óg’s stroller so fast sparks flew out, and culminated with Fia slapping the hell out of her grandmother in the middle of the road. I mean, it’s really impossible to top that. Things hit a rough patch for Fia during the ill-advised late-season storyline in which her feelings for Niall inexplicably went from “stay away from me, you perv!” to “put another baby in me RIGHT NOW!” in 2.5 seconds, which was rather embarrassing for all of us, but on the other hand, she also made the season very educational in that I did not know “influencer” is apparently an occupation now until she kept banging on about it. She ended the season bopping around Europe, leaving a trail of broken Póls, burning youth hostels, and Interpol investigations in her wake, but I can’t imagine she’ll be gone too long, and I for one hope the cloud of surreal chaos that follows Fia wherever she goes is dialed up to 11 next year.

PÁDRAIG. Ireland’s most dashing restaurateur’s season got off to a rocky start: most of the Gaudi drama never panned out for me, no matter how exciting it was that someone called in sick and Siobhán, whoever the hell she is, wasn’t able to cover for them, and while it made for some hilarious group puking, I still have no idea what kind of head injury caused him to go temporarily insane and poison half the town with his mussels. (That’s not a euphemism, though it should be.) He made up for lost time, though, with the Sam/Sonia storyline in the second half of the season, in which we discovered he had been married (wuh?) to a woman (buh??) and had a son (guh?!?), which means he presumably had sex with said woman at least once (AIEEE!!). Sonia was, of course, a complete dumpster fire of a human being, a cross between Doctor Doom and that weird smell in your fridge that you can’t get rid of no matter how hard you try, but hopefully during the summer hols she’s crashed her Moped into another Pizza Hut, this time at a slightly higher rate of speed that will ensure we never have to see her again. It was a good story for Pádraig, though in some ways it raised as many questions as it answered and I somehow suspect we will never get around to answering them, but it was nice to see him have something to do that was actually about him and not in service of somebody else’s story for a change. I’d be happy to have Sam back from time to time next season, and not just because he’s played by an absolutely terrific young actor, but I’d also like to see Pádraig develop a life for himself outside work. I’ve been wanting him to have some romance in his life for years, and while my initial prediction that Briain was introduced to clear the cobwebs out of Pádraig’s hot press didn’t pan out, I’m hoping somebody will finally sex him up in season 23. I mean, even the virtuous and virginal Maggie managed to get some action once every 40 years. Let's see our Pádraig bust out the leather chaps and riding crop and get freaky for a change.

DEE. Last but not least, nobody had a more up-and-down season storywise than our favorite barrister, lawyer, or solicitor Dee. Early on we had several rounds of character assassination I still don’t entirely understand that kept taking her from “mildly annoying” to “WTF is up with this wagon?,” such as all the episodes early on in which she tried to make friends by being completely awful to everyone, suggesting she was raised in a cave by wolves with only The Real Housewives of New Jersey to teach her how humans act. Things picked up mid-season as she allied herself with Frances and became a giver of advice, both vaguely legal (“this Wikipedia article says you are entitled to antimony”) and personal (“it gets Mack’s attention when I hit him in the nuts with a tennis racket, so maybe you could try that with Tadhg?”). Of course, things really went through the stratosphere with Dee in the final episode of the season, in which we learned why you should never let children play with extremely shocking DNA test results. We have no idea how little Jay’s trip to the seaside with Auntie Dee is going to turn out, but it was delightful to see her go completely Dark Phoenix and start destroying the universe, especially since Katy had spent weeks being simultaneously despondent and smug in that way of hers that makes it hard to remember why we like her. It’ll be interesting to see whether Mack spends more of season 23 trying to clean up Dee’s mess or being dismembered by various villagers with pitchforks, but the important thing is that no matter how lurid things get, Dee’s hair will look AMAZING.

RÉAILTÍN. An unusual choice perhaps since we didn’t see her all that much, but season 22 was great for Réailtín. The new actress who plays her, who I guess isn’t that new anymore, is brilliant, and she can play drama as well as she can play comedy and gives some of the best facial expressions on the show, especially when she’s expressing wide-eyed disbelief at the insanity that’s whirling around her. Sometimes I think Réailtín is the smartest one on the show, and from her clashes with Micheál to her alliance with Laoise to her campaign to vomit against every wall in Ros na Rún, she rocked season 22 and is one to watch out for in season 23.

BOBBI LEE. It was another season in which our favorite cowgirl didn’t have any giant storylines of her own but was semi-involved in everybody else’s business at all times, which is really where she thrives anyway. Her new radio show was a recapper’s dream come true, and I hope it’ll continue next season, especially if Micheál did not murder her while we were away for the summer. I’ve been wanting to see Bobbi Lee be successful at something for ages now, so I hope her show will become a huge hit. She’ll bollocks it up in the end, of course, but it’ll be fun until then, especially when Caitríona has to admit that the only reason her stupid station is still on the air is because of Bobbi Lee’s patented brilliant nonsense. I’d also like to see Ros na Run’s self-proclaimed gay icon spend more time with Pádraig and Adam next year because the three of them are a riot together. (I’ve been saying for ages that it would be heaven to see Bobbi Lee and Pádraig share a house, at least for the two or three weeks until it burned to the ground under mysterious circumstances.) Of course, the energy of any scene shoots up as soon as Bobbi Lee enters, and because Annamaria Nic Dhonnacha is one of the funniest actors on TV, even if she’s just standing behind the bar painting her nails and looking bored, she’s absolute gold.


ADAM. Let’s be honest: it was a rough season for our Adam. After graduating with Pádraig-punching, “hold my beer while I jump off this roof” honors from Coming-Out University at the end of season 21, season 22 was a gap year for him, by which I mean he spent the entire year bumming around doing nothing and possibly having sex with German backpackers in one of those pretend bedrooms at IKEA. It feels like the writers don’t know what to do with Adam anymore, and there’s been a bit of the All Gays Must Be Good Role Models trope: now that he’s come out, he must be saintly and wholesome and kinda boring much of the time. (See: Pádraig.) As much as I enjoyed the dastardly moustache-twirling telenovela villain Adam, I don’t want us to go all the way back there, but there’s also got to be some middle ground between that and last season’s cheerful shop assistant who wants nothing more in the world than to tell you that cow suppositories are 50 cents off today. As entertaining as it was to watch him float from job to job after being repeatedly fired for things that weren’t his fault, Adam is 1000 percent more fun when he’s annoyed and petty. Really, the best thing he did all season was kick Peatsai’s lifeless body for ten minutes to see if he might wake up, and also roll his eyes at Vince a lot. Seán Ó Baoill is the undisputed champion in the Best Facial Expressions: Non-Mack Division, which makes it impossible to take one’s eyes off him when he’s onscreen, so I hope the writers give him something to do next season. A boyfriend would be great, but some gentle mischief and moderate-to-severe shit-stirring would be even better. Come back, Adam: the world needs you!

LAOISE. Oh, dear. OK, so my problem with Laoise is that she’s neither one thing nor the other: she’s not an entertaining villain, but she’s also not a plucky heroine we want to root for, so she lives in a constant middle ground of being sour and miserable for no reason, which is not fun to watch. The writers need to pick a lane with her and then put the pedal to the metal: either make her a dynamic go-getter whose well-being we feel invested in or make her a complete Cruella De Vil superbitch who makes Caitríona look like Smurfette. Frankly I think the latter would be a lot more fun, and is something the show needs more, but for God’s sake, figure out who the hell Laoise is and why she’s here because Seosaimhín Ní Shuilleabháin is capable of and deserves so much better than what she’s gotten lately. Laoise was at her best in season 22 when she was serving as Réailtín’s cranky Fairy Godmother, and to be fair, they tried to give her a big storyline with the Eric/Micheál/O'Shea love square thing, but it seemed so limp and half-baked that after the 300th time one of them had the opportunity to tell each other how they felt and didn’t, we were all beyond caring. If nothing else, let her get shot in the street by her intermittent BFF Imelda and then try to frame Fia for it because she hates her. Please, give Laoise something to do and make it entertaining!

MO. This is very hard for me because Mo is one of my very, very favorite characters, but her season 22 just did not work for me. She got one of the biggest storylines of the year with her cancer diagnosis, but it was a story that in some ways was doomed from the start: I don’t think any of us wanted to see Mo spend months battling for her life, losing her hair and suffering the effects of chemo and so on, but instead we ended up with a cancer semi-story that never got off the ground, in which the disease was more of an inconvenience that consisted mostly of her trying to arrange rides to the hospital and pressing 3 on her keypad to be transferred to the billing department. Marie Bheag Breathnach was absolutely splendid throughout, to no one's surprise, and I’m grateful we didn’t have to see Mo suffer appallingly because I don’t think I could’ve taken that, but at the same time, the whole story was just “meh” and, really, the only thing I got out of it is that maybe Colm is not as unsuitable for her as we thought. While it's always nice to see Yvonne Ní Laife, the midseason visit from Úna was just plain confusing, because it kept feeling like something exciting was about to happen, but it never did, and then she just…went away. I’m in favor of anything that gives Mo more screen time, but even though it gave Marie Bheag Breathnach an opportunity for a lot of touching and well-acted scenes, the storyline just didn't hold together as a whole for me. I’m hoping Mo will be back to her full glory in season 23, kicking ass and taking names, and I can’t wait for her to find out what’s been going on with Uncle Mack and his can’t-keep-it-zipped adventures in Daly Land.

What do you think? Do you agree, or did I completely miss various boats? Which storylines worked for you, which didn’t, and which characters had the best season 22? And most importantly, what’s going to happen in season 23?? Don’t miss the season premiere on September 4th on TG4, and then come back to this site regularly for chat, gossip, snark, and Bobbi Lee fandom!


  1. Sounds about right to me. The cancer storyline just seemed to be ... there. Not dynamic enough.

  2. Just discovered you as I was trying to catch up before the new season. Hilarious!! Thanks for getting me caught up. It was my first season. Question: Has Taidgh always been this horrible? Maybe there's something in the past that made him likable? Because I just want him to go away.


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