Ladybaby is a 25-minute tragi-comedy by Kirstie Swain which tells the story of Suzie and Kate, a recently reunited mother and daughter odd coupling in which the daughter is sensible and the mother is wild. You may be preparing yourself for echoes of Absolutely Fabulous but while practical Kate is exasperated by chaotic Suzie, Ladybaby enters into areas where Ab Fab wouldn’t dip a pedicured toe.
Suzie is 36, messy, and, like many millennials, trapped in an immature state where her economical position leaves her with very few adult responsibilities. She lives with her friend, new mum Alana who is struggling with her maternal identity. It is during a peak student lifestyle night out in a dingy dive bar that Suzi meets the daughter she gave up aged 15, Kate.
In a single episode writer Swain manages to touch the aspects of cis-womanhood that collide with one another. How teen pregnancy is shameful and a break from your GCSEs would be ruinous but once we turn 30 it’s suddenly very important to drop everything and have a baby, now, now, now, and forget any consequences.
Then there is society’s sexism, boys grow into men via the passage of time but women who haven’t become mothers are portrayed as immature, selfish ‘ladybabies’ who don’t understand and can’t quite function in the fecund ‘real world’. But, plot twist, in Ladybaby malfunctioning Suzie is a mother, while her extremely functional daughter Kate is not. In a hilarious moment Suzie clocks Kate’s adultness by the presence of tissues in her handbag, which we all know is what really makes a woman!
Ladybaby does not make light of any trauma that may come from teen pregnancy, adoption, or discovering your mum drunk in a dive bar toilet with the DJ, but Swain is talented in finding humour and tenderness in the grimmest situations.
Ladybaby is available on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer from Tuesday 24th August and airs on BBC Scotland on Friday 27th August at 10.30pm.