Comedian Katherine Ryan continues her successful collaborative relationship in the six-episode scripted series, The Duchess. Ryan portrays Katherine, a single mom living in London, raising her daughter Olive (Katy Byrne). Katherine is involved in a no strings attached situation with the likable Evan (Steen Raskopoulos). Not to mention, she’s also trying to stay civil with her Ex and Olive’s dad, former boy band member Shep (Rory Keenan).
Realizing that she would like another baby so Olive doesn’t grow up alone, Katherine sets out on a journey to find a suitable dad. After a humorous debacle at a sperm bank, Katherine decides that Olive’s dad is the only logical solution to turn to, even though he’s her greatest enemy. Will Katherine find love with Evan, and is Shep truly the solution to her problem?
As I usually do with most comics that I am unfamiliar with, I avoided reading anything about Katherine Ryan or watching anyone of her standup routines. After hitting play on episode one of The Duchess, Ryan pulled me in with her no holds barred approach to comedy and its heartfelt message. So much so that I binged the entire season in about four hours.
One of the things I was fond of in The Duchess was Ryan’s writing of her character. Some of the aspects of the character appear to be based on Ryan’s own life. Ryan is a good mom and doesn’t just let Olive run free. To my surprise, Olive doesn’t even have a cell phone or social media account, which is almost an oxymoron in this age of social media. I also commend Ryan’s characterization of Shep. While Katherine knows that Shep is a bit of a goalless loser, she never condemns him in front of Olive or speaks ill of him. With the juggling of a relationship as a single parent, I found the interactions between Katherine and Evan to be entirely believable.
The Duchess is a show primarily composed of actors I wasn’t familiar with. The show has a natural flow to it though, and Ryan’s comedic timing and wholesome personality shine through with ease. While newcomer Katy Byrne as Olive never comes off as bratty but more of an idealistic tween. Steen Raskopoulos and Rory Kennan both provide enough banter and moments to keep up with Ryan regarding the men in her life. I was particularly fond of Rory Kennan’s former boy band shtick.
At just six episodes, each clocking in at under thirty-five minutes, The Duchess just may be the breakout that Katherine Ryan deserves for her brand. The show has heartfelt and had plenty of laughs to keep viewers entertained.
Final Grade B+
The Duchess is streaming now at www.netflix.com/TheDuchess