In this series, we look back at sitcoms that lasted merely one series, and try to figure out where they went wrong. From the Beeb to Fox to ITV, why did these comedies even exist in the first place?
Honky Sausages is something of a legend in my head. A lot of the programmes you'll see in the columns are like fever dreams to me. They came and went from my life when I was younger, I watched them, and years later, like many memories we have, feel like they never existed in the first place. These comedies come and go and all we take from them, other than the vague recollection years later, is the ghostly impression that they're shit. You can't quite remember why, but you just know in your heart that it was bad. Honky Sausages breaks that trend. Not only do I remember it vividly, but I feel it has affected me adversely somehow in my adult life. It is such a toxic, horrible object that to watch it would be to sentence yourself to a malaise you can't quite place. An unknown horror deep inside you, a repression that comes out in a therapy session years later. Honky Sausages is a bad uncle.
The premise of the show centres around the monologues of Honky Mum, played by Laila Morse aka Big Mo from Eastenders. She is the matriarch of a family of degenerates, including Honky Dad, Honky Granddad, Honky Nipper and, of course, Honky Bitch. They're what someone from Eton thinks working class people are like. It is a phenomenally offensive, puerile, unnecessary, pointless piece of garbage. See for yourself.
It completely lacks a premise. Its plots are based on stuff like the bursting pustules on the penis of a lad who wanks too much. It's that sort of level. Honky Mum has a grown up black son with an afro. All the black people in the show have afros. Honky Mum is a former prostitute. They live in a hovel. They're all disgusting caricatures of poor people. It was written by Dean Cavanagh, a former perennial music journalist who wrote for NME and Melody Maker back when people gave a semblance of a shit about either of those things. Cavanagh, from Bradford, was involved in the acid house scene in the early '90s.
I won't go on too much about the show itself, as it's fairly deplorable and the contents don't really warrant mentioning aside from a cursory glance. But its timing is interesting.
Honky Sausages aired in 1999. TV sitcoms, and comedies in general, were becoming more risqué as time went on. Alternative comedy had loosened the twee shackles of the previous decades, American comedy was coming to the fore a bit more, with open promiscuity as a central theme rather than a bawdy allusion. Shows like Brass Eye were pushing the envelope further, embarrassing politicians, talking about paedophilia. The turn of the century meant stepping into an unknown future, one of computer viruses and a limited time left with the Spice Girls. But it would also be the decade to usher in the now popular and oft satirised phrase "Political Correctness Gone Mad". Interesting, then that this show, at the corner of a new millennium, should embody everything about entertainment that should be left behind. A sense of pernicious classism, brutal stereotyping, and perhaps it biggest crime – being callously unfunny and poorly acted.
To me, Honkey Sausages appears as the final belch of the corpse of a century. A bright future in the 2000s awaited every man woman and child (before 9/11 which basically ruined it and is still kind of fucking everything up). Honky Sausages represents a gasp of air from a time that is dying. Unfortunately for us, bad comedy will never die, as long as unfunny people are alive.
Honky Sausages didn't even finish its first series, which was aired on the now defunct UK Play. Even the channel it was on sounds like a grubby phone-in sex channel. It wasn't allowed to complete its deplorable mission because we wouldn't let it. A new year and a new life beckoned, and we weren't about to have "Honky Bitch" ruin it.
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