Absolutely Fabulous was first broadcast in 1992 and became an instant hit. Originally a sketch on the French and Saunders Show, Jennifer Saunders saw its potential and created one of the most ground-breaking and debauched comedies on British TV. Centred around the hip London fashion scene the series follows Edina (Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), two women who refuse to grow up and are constantly on a mission to lose weight, gorging themselves with cocaine and/or champagne, endlessly throwing parties (or throwing up at parties), and sporting outrageous outfits which were the height of fashion at the time--honestly sweetie! The superb comic performances offered star status to Julia Sawalha as Edina's straight-laced daughter and Jane Horrocks as the sublimely dippy Bubble, and re-invented the careers of Joanna Lumley and June Whitfield. Saunders meanwhile secured her status as one of the top female comedians Britain has ever produced. Although its consciously chic clothing looks a little dated now, its mad characterisations endure and the jokes remain as hilariously slick and apt as ever.
Ab Fab remains a landmark in TV since it was the first time that female comedians and writers had had the freedom and exposure to satirise problems close to their own heart, from their own perspective. With Feminist writers claiming that the ideals of feminism were dead in the 1990s and that female concerns were moving in the wrong direction--towards the "Laddette Culture"--and reports claiming that careers were taking a central role, forcing motherhood onto the back-burner, the series sought to embody and satirise these new supposedly "female" characteristics. As the show continued to grow in popularity both in Britain and the States, plans were made to transfer the formula to America. However, as with many other great British series, the content was considered too risky for American audiences due to the amount of sex and drug references. Thus domestic audiences breathed a sigh of release that their beloved Ab Fab would forever stay British to the core. --Nikki Disney