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The Letdown film review

The Letdown
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

An endearing protagonist navigating life with a newborn makes The Letdown a must watch for all new parents.

ABC’s comedy-drama The Letdown is a darkly comic sitcom about new motherhood created by Sarah Scheller and star Alison Bell. It centres on Audrey (played by Bell), and her baby daughter, Stevie. We join them on their uphill journey of finding their feet during the first few months of parenthood.

The plot

Frazzled Audrey.

New mother Audrey is having a hard time adjusting to motherhood. Exhausted, struggling to breastfeed and lacking support from her husband, her flighty mother, and friends who don’t invite her out clubbing, she turns to a new mother’s group. What she finds is a mixed bag of women and one man who are all in the same boat. Their horror birth stories, sleepless nights and loss of identity unite them.

From the first scene, it grasps your attention as a woman sleeps inside her car, hunched against the glass. A man with a backwards cap taps on the window to wake her up. The man wants to sell her drugs, but she’s only parked there because that’s the only way her baby will fall asleep. This is just a sneak peek into what’s coming up next.

To watch or not?

Interestingly, The Letdown doesn’t focus on Audrey’s actual relationship with her newborn daughter at all. It focuses on coping with the unexpected changes in her adult world. Parents will likely laugh in recognition of all the messy rites of passage that Audrey goes through. For younger viewers that haven’t seen or experienced the difficulties of early parenthood, The Letdown could be a revelation.

The characters are nicely drawn and the screenplay is brightly funny, but the performances elevate the material significantly. It’s one of the best casts for an Australian TV comedy in recent years, led by Bell, who manages to make her exhausted, defeated and sometimes cynical character entirely three-dimensional and endearing.

What I liked most is that instead of revelling in all the sweet things about a new baby in your life, the show dives right into the unspoken, frazzled bits of motherhood. It does this with a humorous twist, though. The Letdown is a truthful insight into new parenthood and a must watch that will make you reminisce and cry at the same time.