Doll and Em is a two-series, 12-episode sitcom from writers and actresses Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer. The premise of series one is that actress Emily hires best friend Dolly to be her personal assistant, and chaos ensues from there. The premise of series 2 is slightly different, with the two friends turning their hands to writing a play, and yes, more chaos!
The series is very reminiscent of other behind-the-scenes style comedies, such as Extras and Episodes. I suspect it’s also quite a lot like the Warwick Davis vehicle Life is Short, although I haven’t seen that. However, Doll & Em somewhat lacks the vibrant ensemble nature of Episodes, and the characters aren’t quite as interesting as those in Extras. What it has in common with both of those shows, is an abundance of celebrity cameos. Some of these are used well, some are a little thrown in for the sake of it. There are some hilarious moments across the two series, and some lovely ones too. However, the ideas feel a little bit then to be stretched across a couple of series. Other sitcoms would fit in the same amount of plot and incident as there is in two series of this within two episodes.
As is often the case with series loosely based on real lives and real people, this show has a tendency to feel somewhat self-indulgent. At times, the two women are in on the joke, but we are not always invited to share in it with them. It’s not a sitcom that I’d want to entirely write-off as a vanity project-but I think it would definitely have benefited from a third party, whether in terms of writing for in terms of a different regular character.
Nevertheless, it’s always nice to see comedy written by two women, and it’s not an unpleasant way to spend your time. You can marathon both series in about 4 ½ hours, which is not a particularly intense investment. Indeed, I would suggest that if you are going to watch the show, you would be best to marathon it, or take it in big chunks. The episodes are probably a little bit too slight to stand individual viewing and work better when viewed back to back.