Such Brave Girls: Real Story Behind the Dysfunctional Family Sitcom

Created by Kat Sadler, ‘Such Brave Girls’ is a BBC Three sitcom that spirals into the depths of dark humor with Josie and her debt-ridden dysfunctional family. The father left ten years ago, and the mother, faces a continuous financial crisis, having little patience for her daughters’ cornucopia of mental illnesses and disorders. Josie and her sister, Billie, are defined by their family trauma, reacting to it in contrasting ways. Josie internalizes her insecurities, becoming a chronic people pleaser, while her sister externalizes them and is constantly angry with the world.

Deep down, they both just want to be loved. Romantic obsession, sexual confusion, depression, anxiety, and loss are all brutally approached by the show, armed to the teeth with dark humor and bravery. Watching the family play and laugh off crippling issues, you might ask yourself if the series is based on the life of one, or many such unfortunate individuals, and if their reality has inspired it.

Such Brave Girls is Loosely Based on the True Story of Kat Sadler

‘Such Brave Girls’ is loosely based on the personal experiences of the creator, Kat Sadler, who essentially plays a version of herself in Josie. Before working on the show, Sadler worked as a comedy writer while struggling with anxiety and depression, feeling as though she and people like her were not represented in the thematically safe sitcoms being created. She lived her life tackling the darkest of times with humor, inspiring her to create a show that did the same with its themes.

Sadler’s younger sister, Lizzie Davidson, essays the role of her on-screen sibling, Billie. By the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sadler was sectioned for attempting suicide twice. When she called her sister to finally tell her about it, Lizzie, in turn, revealed a 20,000-pound debt she had been keeping secret. They immediately fell into fits of hysterical laughter at their ridiculously grim situations. It occurred to Sadler how both of them went through the most hopeless of times while relying on the duct tape of all emotional damage, humor.

Laughing at seemingly insurmountable problems did not make them feel as threatening anymore. Feeling like this approach gave them agency over their problems, she was inspired to take her personal struggles and experiences, and share them in a sitcom format with others who could laugh along with them. Kat Sadler says that the characters of Josie and Billie aren’t exactly the sisters, but contain parts of them, particularly, the worst parts. A major triumph for her was to see her mother laugh at all the right places when they watched the pilot episode together. She even found working with her younger sister on set delightful.

Even though their fairly distant sibling dynamic didn’t favor Lizzie following her orders, she soon began to rely on her elder sister, and even asked for Sadler to be present in her solo scenes to make her feel comfortable. The first-time showrunner always had Lizzie in mind to play Billie. Her judgment paid off as the younger sibling helped her with writing the show, contributing to its humor, and having a strong shared language on set. As such, their real-world sibling dynamic carries over to the series somewhat intact, lending further realism to the show.

While all the characters in the series are somewhat fictional, the trauma presented in it is rooted in reality. The creator channels her experiences and her warped perspective of the world to create the situations encountered by Josie, who in turn deals with them using a dark sense of humor cultivated by the real-world sisters. Therefore the show is technically fictional, but takes issues encountered by its creator in the real world and cathartically deals with them in the sitcom inspired by her life.

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