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Hapless (2024) — Series Review

Paul, played by Tim Downie in the comedy Hapless, is your typical petty man, navigating through his day-to-day life in countless amusingly petty ways. The show frames itself around Paul’s amusing interactions with The Jewish Enquirer, a U.K. Jewish publication, where he is tasked with finding the “jangle” (Jewish angle) in each story he covers.

Paul is not virtuous, yet not exactly wicked; he’s the type of man who would kindly lend a woman change for a shopping cart, only to spend the rest of his day reminding her that she owes him £1 after she rejects him for a date. He is easily offended and quick to overthink, transforming the most minor of issues into terrible predicaments. The comedy of Hapless often comes from its protagonist’s flawed, yet amusingly identifiable traits.

Right from the start, it is clear that Paul is not perfect. His personality traits range from being "racist, sexist, fattist, possibly transphobic and misanthropic," as he confesses to his father. The humorous part is that despite his unpleasant traits, Paul's struggles often emanate from a place almost anyone can relate with.

Hapless (2024) — Series Review

Hapless manages to stand out from other similar comedies with its distinctive Jewish essence. For example, Paul's storylines revolve around him trying to find a mohel that has steady hands, or him trying to grapple with the differences between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews. The latter is humorously summarized by Paul's sister Naomi stating that Sephardic Jews get "lemons and tomatoes and sunshine," while Ashkenazi Jews like Paul have "centuries of beetroot and turnip and ice."

Hapless does not evade tackling controversial issues. Paul’s encounters with a pro-Palestinian canvasser is a subplot that treads delicate grounds, revealing the significant shift in societal tension between 2020, when the first two seasons aired in the U.K, and today, 2024.

Largely, Hapless finds humor in the minor details of everyday life, showing its audience that there are no large answers and it does not attempt to delve too deep. Despite this, the show remains a wryly amusing portrait of the trials and tribulations of everyday life.