Mawaan Rizwan’s sitcom careers through genres with have-a-go glee
Juice (BBC Three/iPlayer), a surreal comedy from 31-year-old actor and stand-up Mawaan Rizwan, throws everything at the wall to see what sticks. It is the kind of show that, in order to make the point, would literally have people throwing things at walls to test which is the stickiest.
You have to salute the endeavour. Rizwan is the madcap tornado behind the series (he writes and stars), and from his mushroom haircut to his highly TikTok-able dance routines it is his show throughout. Jamma (Rizwan) is a chaotic-yet-loveable show-off who works at a pseudy marketing agency flogging face cream. He’s also boyfriend to therapist Guy (Russell Tovey, who underplays it beautifully, letting Rizwan steal his own show), brother to deadpan Isaac (Rizwan’s real-life brother Nabhaan, best known from the much underrated Informer) and son to parents Farida and Saif (his real-life mother Shahnaz and comedy actor Jeff Mirza, both excellent throughout).
Juice careers through genres and set-pieces with have-a-go glee, never quite reaching laugh-out-loud funny but remaining novel and peculiar throughout. There is a sense of short skits without any real connection being bundled together in the guise of a sitcom.
In place of narrative, Juice prefers imagery and symbolism. So Jamma’s need to “unpack” his issues is represented by a series of cardboard boxes clogging up his flat that shake about, like they’re about to explode. In among these kinds of visual experiments, it takes Rizwan a while to find out what story he’s really telling, other than that of an eccentric with a wild imagination on a demolition derby through a staid world.