In the current age of streaming, streaming, and more streaming, it's easy to forget that live programming is still a thing. Yes, there are still people out there that have patience and watch a show weekly whilst it airs on television, as opposed to consuming four seasons of a show in the span of a few days. One such example that has people ditching their on demand habits is Flowers on Channel 4. The drama has been critically lauded, so who is Will Sharpe, the show's creator?
Flowers is returning to Channel 4 for a second season, and is already generating hype. Thankfully, it's airing at 10 p.m., so don't worry, you can still watch Love Island. Flowers originally aired on Channel 4 in May 2016, and season one currently holds a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, earning praise for creator and director Sharpe.
Born in London and raised in Tokyo until he was eight, the Guardian reports, Sharpe would eventually study classics at Cambridge University and even spent a year with the Royal Shakespeare Company before branching out into writing, filmmaking, and acting. It's safe to say that he has a pretty solid foundation in creativity, and he has definitely put it into good use, and he also appears on screen in Flowers as Shun.
Sharpe told the newspaper that he learns "fastest and best by doing it" — 'it' being his writing, directing, acting, and producing. He co-directed two of Britain's finest independent films — Black Pond and The Darkest Universe — and in creating Flowers, has arguably built one of the best television shows on Channel 4 since Black Mirror.
In speaking with The Independent, he revealed that he drew on his childhood in Japan in developing his comedic style. “One of the things that I wanted to incorporate was a flavour of Japanese comedy that was a little bit louder or a bit more stylised,” he explained, with the newspaper also reporting that he used the drama to deconstruct stereotypes around Asian characters. "That felt like a more interesting starting point for saying something about why we’re always at the computer in a sci-fi movie telling the good guy that there’s a spaceship on its way. Or the guy who’s good at maths in a group of friends," he said. "Why is it always that, and never complex or unexpected?"
Starring Broadchurch's Olivia Colman as music teacher Deborah and The Mighty Boosh's Julian Barratt as children's author Maurice, Flowers depicts the life of the dysfunctional Flowers family, and the way in which they deal with multiple issues around their mental health. Maurice is depressed, Sharpe recently revealed that the couple's daughter Amy (Sophia Di Martino) suffers with bipolar disorder, and Flowers completely embraces the drama— and comedy — that can arise from this situation.
With a focus on humour and the highs and lows of mental health, Sharpe draws from his personal experience with type two bipolar disorder. "The one thing I was almost militant about was not to laugh at anyone's mental state, and try to write complicated situations that, unfortunately, were unfolding in an unhelpful way for the characters," Sharpe told the Guardian. "Rather than finding comedy in difficult times, I find laughter a helpful way to make yourself feel better. I don't feel like having a mental illness rules out a kind of joyful, fulfilling life."
Sharpe also portrays this in the setting, changing it up from last season's autumn, melancholic feel to a summer that reflects the focus on bipolar disorder by utilizing a frantic, wild, and colourful palette to complement the narrative. Season one only contained six episodes — as does the second — but Sharpe manages to paint such a visceral and detailed picture of the Flower family and the challenges they face.
And that's what Flowers is all about. Not only does Sharpe raise awareness to the many aspects of mental health — from bipolar disorder to anxiety and depression — he demonstrates the effectiveness of laughter as a coping mechanism. It may not work for everyone, but a show like Flowers that produces this a beautiful kind of hilarity can remind you that you are not alone, and we all cope with mental health in different ways.
Sharpe's Flowers returns on Channel 4 on Monday June 11 at 10 p.m. You can catch-up with the first season on 4OD.