Irish comedy star Chris O’Dowd drew liberally from his own childhood when he created Moone Boy, the delightful and very funny sitcom he also co-wrote and stars in, which premieres exclusively today on the streaming service Hulu.
Set in the Western Ireland town of Boyle, circa 1989, the series revolves around 11-year-old Martin Paul Kenny Dalglish Moone (David Rawle), a free spirit who lives with his parents, Debra and Liam (Deirdre O’Kane, Peter McDonald), and his three older sisters, Trisha, Fidelma and Sinead (Aoife Duffin, Clare Monnelly, Sarah White), who casually torment him in the way older siblings are obligated to do. Despite this, and the torture he routinely endures at school at the hands of the Bonner twins (Brendan and Cillian Frayne), Martin is generally a sunny free spirit, thanks in no small part to his imaginary friend: a tall, bearded adult named Sean Murphy (O’Dowd). Sean reliably has Martin’s back at every turn, offering him plenty of moral support and occasionally warning the lad against some of his more foolhardy fancies.
The series opens on the eve of Martin’s 12th birthday, when, after years of receiving uninspired gifts from his family, Martin is stunned to see his father bring out a wrapped present that clearly contains a bicycle (“I don’t believe it!” Sean gasps. “It must be a bicycle-shaped sock!”).
Each half-hour episode follows Martin and Sean as they navigate, not unlike Calvin and Hobbes, the often daunting wilderness of childhood. Fans of British comedy can look for some of their favorite performers popping up in guest roles, such as Steve Coogan’s episode 2 appearance as a local fishmonger named Francie “Touchy” Feeley, who earned his nickname from his “handsy” ways.
Moone Boy made its UK debut in 2012, where its initial six-episode run was so enthusiastically received by both viewers and critics that a second and third season were ordered (a new episode will be added each Wednesday on Hulu).
Moone Boy may tell its rib-tickling jokes with a strong Irish brogue (don’t worry, the series is closed-captioned if the accents get a bit thick for you), but its lovely truths about growing up are completely universal. Check it out, especially if you’re a fan of O’Dowd, who is building a substantial fan base on this side of the pond via his work in such projects as the movie hit Bridesmaids and the current HBO Sunday night sitcom Family Tree.