Season five of the BBC drama “Cuckoo” just landed on Netflix for an international audience. This time around, Cuckoo is gone, Cuckoo’s son is gone, and Ken has a sister. The show’s dynamic has shifted entirely and the Thompsons are getting themselves into even more absurd situations. But does the new season hold up to the previous show format?
In a nutshell – yes it does. In the first episode, Rachel (Esther Smith) briefly mentions that she and Dale have split but we never actually find out what happened. In almost any other show, such a crucial detail being missed would be unforgivable. What makes Cuckoo so special, however, is not the monumental life changes that happen but the life that happens in between. It’s a show about the nitty-gritty details of family life, even though the Thompson family life is one of a kind.
What stands out most about season five is that it is even more shocking and ridiculous. In one episode, Ken and Lorna invite a vegan around for dinner in the hope he will fund Ken’s campaign to become the local leader of his party. In an absurd turn of events, Ken unwraps the tinfoil to discover that what he has cooked was not tofu, but the head of his sister’s dog. It’s shocking, preposterous, and a new level of bad luck for Ken.
The show also deserves praise in the way it stays on the pulse of modern culture. The dynamic between boomer Ken and his liberal daughter, Rachel, is sensitively portrayed while also being hilarious. Ken teases her do-goody attitude while Rachel and Lorna tend to miss Ken’s point. Ironically, when Ken’s super-rich, spoiled sister arrives, it seems that he finally has a chance to be understood.
The love triangle between Rachel, Ben and Ben’s new girlfriend is also brilliantly portrayed. When Rachel falls for Ben’s girlfriend, she reminds the audience that sexuality is fluid. Kissing a woman does not make her a lesbian, it is a testament for her feelings there and then. It is scenes like this that champion inclusivity in a natural, unforced way.
Overall, season five may well be the best season yet. If you are a fan of shocking or absurd humor, it is definitely the funniest. It also mixes things up enough to have us craving season 6.