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Dark Side of Oxygen Out in 'Nighty Night’

What can you say about a comedy that opens with dialogue like: “I’m sorry, it’s not good news. The lump we removed is malignant”?

This is comedy at its very darkest.

Oxygen’s newest acquisition, Nighty Night, a six-part series from the British Broadcasting Corp., just might be the blackest comedy to hit TV.

The show stars writer/actress Julia Davis as perhaps the most self-centered hairdresser ever. When the above diagnosis is given to her husband, her first response is a wailing “Why ME!” But after her husband is admitted to the hospital for extensive treatment, Jill leaves the facility and drives straight to a dating service.

When she spots a new neighbor, a doctor no less, she announces prematurely that hubby Terry has died in order to play the sympathy card for all it is worth. She then pursues the neighbor right in front of his wife, Catherine, who is living with multiple sclerosis, and was insecure about her marriage (and rightly so) before Jill set her sights on Dr. Don.

So it’s dark, but is it funny?

Much of the farce is amusing in an “Oh, my God, I can’t believe she’d do that” kind of way. It dances on the edge of bad taste so consistently that the actors must have lacerated feet.

The best scenes are in Jill’s “beauty” shop, where she runs roughshod over her clients. In the first episode, she denies seeing blatant dye stains rimming the hairline of a client in the chair. When pressed to do something about it, she cuts hideous, short bangs into the haircut. When the client complains the new cut makes her forehead look huge, the resourceful Jill draws new eyebrows in, halfway up the offending space.

When Jill tortures wheelchair bound, doormat Catherine, it is almost painful to watch. In one scene, to wear Catherine out before a planned dinner party with the couple, Jill lets her out of the car at the bottom of a hill while Jill parks the car. When the exhausted woman rolls herself to the top, Jill takes her for coffee, sticks her for the bill then snubs a gift Catherine has bought her, suggesting it be returned so Jill can have the cash instead.

You don’t want to laugh so much as smack her.

Nighty Night runs Fridays at 10 p.m. on Oxygen.