DISCLAIMER: This review for Apple TV+’s romantic comedy Still Up Season 1 contains very minimal spoilers.
If you’ve ever struggled to get a good night’s sleep (me the past few months), you know how frustrating it can be. Undoubtedly, you’ve never framed your insomnia through a playful rom-com lens, but Apple TV+ endeavors to do just that with its latest offering, Still Up. The eight-episode romantic comedy finds two characters deepening their bond via their shared insomnia. Naturally, hijinks ensue that only a rom-com can provide.
About Still Up
Here’s a synopsis for the show per Apple TV+:
“Bonded by insomnia, best friends Lisa and Danny stay connected to each other late into the night and find their way through a world of wonderfully weird surprises as their relationship deepens.”
The series stars Antonia Thomas as Lisa, Craig Roberts as Danny, Blake Harrison as Veggie (Lisa’s boyfriend), Luke Fetherton as Adam (Danny’s firefighter neighbor) and Lois Chimimba as Amy (Danny’s girlfriend). Still Up hails from co-creators/co-writers Natalie Walter, Steven Burge and Bryce Hart, with all eight episodes helmed by John Addis.
The World Looks Different at Night
I want to preface this review by stating I’ve been a longtime fan of Antonia Thomas and Craig Roberts. I watch a ton of British TV. So, when I learned about them headlining Still Up, I knew Apple made this series specifically (and only) for me. Critics were given the whole season to watch. Folks, it was very easy to binge all eight episodes. Still Up is sweet, light and bursting at the seams with charm. It’s as fluffy as you’d expect for a rom-com. The series is feel-good TV at its most heartwarming and whimsical.
There are some outlandish situations, as is par for the course in this genre, so suspend your disbelief. (For example, we never really see the real-life side effects of insomnia for Lisa or Danny.) However, they yield the most laugh-out-loud moments in the season. Our leads confidently steer this ship with nuanced, layered performances. Thomas and Roberts boast a natural, easygoing chemistry, which is an accomplishment considering they’re rarely in the same room. This is a boon since a series of this nature requires a solid connection between its leads to keep it afloat. They also don’t rely on physical chemistry to captivate us. In Still Up, it feels like they really communicate. They talk to each other, not at each other.
Harrison, Chimimba and Fetherston provide a few laughs, but they’re primarily supportive fodder to propel Lisa’s and Danny’s arcs. I’d love to see them more fleshed out in a potential Season 2, but this is Lisa and Danny’s story. One of Danny’s neighbors (played by Rich Fulcher) is appropriately called “Cat Man” and leans hard into the “middle-aged man lives alone with his cats” stereotype. It’s a little too trope-y; however, it’s not enough to diminish my enjoyment of the show.
A Character-Driven Narrative
Thomas’ work is subtle and understated. She plays Lisa as a complex, messy, wonderfully weird woman who doesn’t realize she’s in love with her best friend. If you’ve ever watched Lovesick (another great British rom-com), you know this is in her wheelhouse. She does it so well.
Meanwhile, Roberts never portrays Danny’s agoraphobia for laughs (nor does the show). You feel for his plight, and the series delves into what kickstarted said agoraphobia. I wish the season dug deeper into the root cause of Lisa’s insomnia beyond potential relationship turbulence, but perhaps the writers are saving it for a second season. The finale certainly leaves a few loose threads to continue the story.
Still Up‘s charm also comes from Joel Cadbury’s atmospheric, lullaby-like score. It’s perfect for night owls navigating a moonlit landscape. There’s a breeziness and buoyancy that doesn’t overpower the narrative but complements it. Speaking of the narrative, it appears deceptively shallow at the surface level. However, don’t let that fool you. There’s depth beneath that surface, even if the series doesn’t tap fully into that potential. The substance is there; here’s hoping Season 2 really takes the plunge.
All in all, Still Up is a joyous comedy that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy. Sometimes, that’s all you want from a TV show. It’s an easy watch with just enough rom-com zaniness and two relatable leads to entertain you. If you’re a fan of Starstruck, Lovesick, Red Oaks or romantic comedies with charismatic characters, you’ll dig this series. Head into your watch knowing what this show is — a spirited, cheeky, witty rom-com — and you’ll be golden.
Random Phrases Out of Context
- “…Buzz Lightyear’s coffin…”
- “I am a one-man rollercoaster of happiness.”
- “It’s like SEAL footage of them capturing Osama Bin Laden. Although, you know, totally a lot more different.”
- “I’m sorry, they’re just very moreish.”
Still Up premieres its first three episodes on September 22, 2023, with new episodes streaming every Friday through October 27 on Apple TV+.
Check out the trailer here:
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