As Obama continues to work on reviving the US’s reputation abroad, far too many of our countrymen are doing their best to throw a wrench in that process. For Sean McCaffrey, an Irish-American living in London, perpetuating the ugly American seems to be one of his top m.o.’s. And it frequently pays off with innovative, if often sophomoric, comedy.
Written, created by and starring Sean McConaghy as his alter ego Sean McCaffrey, Leave to Enter (taken from the technical term for someone granted entry into the UK by British immigration officers) does an exemplary job of raising the bar for web sitcoms, and could stir up greater interest in the format over in the UK.
McCaffrey is a young man of about 30 with a bushy mane and a fondness for rubbing his pale, hirsute torso with a mock territoriality (each episode commences with a hearty rub-down, or at least features McCaffrey bare-chested). He’s always over at his Irish girlfriend Donnla’s place (Donnla Hughes), pestering her or her sister Marie (Marie Ruane) about something or other that’s bugging him.
A running thread is Sean’s accusation of Marie using his (electric) toothbrush, a plot device that comes to a wet, wild and exuberant resolution in episode 3, complete with mock-Kubrickian flash edits and Beethoven’s 9th.
Each of the four episodes released so far (the series is slated for 22 total) reliably produces at least a full chuckle if not an all-out bout of cathartic laughs. Along the story line, we are constantly faced with Sean’s exhibitionist, drama king demeanor. He continually sabotages his relationship with the lovely (and reasonable) Donnla by acting like a high-maintenance man-child who just wants to get his way.
For an Irish-American, McConaghy conjures quite a bit of East Coast Jew. Physically, he reminds me of a cross between my second cousin and DJ Lubel. But personality wise, he’s not as nebbishy. His character is an in-your-face, sometimes trash-talking, always street-corner-rhymin’ Jay-Z worshipper who melds a bit of Swingers-era Vince Vaughn with Curly and a little Charlie Chaplin.
Because the Leave to Enter ensemble resides in the north London suburb of Crouch End, as opposed to London proper, the atmosphere is low-key and even neighborhood-friendly. It provides a great backdrop for sitcom. It’s urban, but in a light-hearted and bouncy way that keeps the real world thankfully at bay, and makes a ripe environment for hi-jinks. Here, outside the office of his Aussie estate agent friend, Dave, is where some of the best comedy of the series ensues.
While waiting for Dave to return from a showing, Sean proceeds to take on Dave’s alpha-aggro co-worker, George (Georgiana Taylor, who also directs) in a pantomime contest of sexual-one-upmanship through the window of the agency. (You’ll have a full regimen of mock sex moves to perform at your next party!)
McConaghy, Taylor, fellow director, Sam O’Mahoney-Adams and crew have figured out a way to give a refreshing take on both the sitcom and physical comedy, that’s neither familiar nor overdone.