If the women of Absolutely Fabulous—the epically out-of-touch Edina Monsoon (creator and writer Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (all-star Joanna Lumley)—care nothing outside of the superficial, then it’s only fitting that they have no interest in athletic pursuits of the highest caliber. Most Olympic athletes get only mere weeks of glory, so what’s the point of lavishing attention on the only tenuously famous, when there’s real celebrity to gush over?
“Olympics” is the final installment of the 20th anniversary Absolutely Fabulous specials, preceded by “Identity” and “Jobs.” Like the latter day versions of AbFab, “Olympics” has little teeth. It feels like the show had to do this episode because the Olympics, as Eddy’s daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) points out, are on Eddy’s doorstep. Rather than skewering the games themselves, the episode largely focuses on Eddy’s constant desire to remain a member of the cool kids club, despite not being a member even when the original series aired in 1992.
Edina first appears trying to enter to Stella McCartney’s upscale boutique, donning an egregiously burnt orange over-sized peacoat and yellow pants (I could watch this show forever, if only to see what ludicrous outfit Jennifer Saunders manages to stuff her body into), but she is consistently denied entrance. “Stelllllllaaaaaaa!” she wails.
Back at home, she runs into wacked-out assistant Bubbles (Jane Horrocks), who is recreating Olympic failures, in full costume, and her long-suffering daughter Saffron, who is back from Nigeria where she’s been living with her daughter Jane as part of a harem. Eddy tells Saffy she’s rented out her house to Michael Douglas for the games, and she and Patsy plan on a “top-to-tail renovation” before he gets there. Watching Lumley mime how she’s going to have “a little tightening procedure” is dirtier and funnier than anything 2 Broke Girls attempted last season.
Saffy reminds her mother that the Olympics are starting, like, now, and is amazed Eddy could have missed their impending opening. “Well, it’s been everywhere for five bloody years, hasn’t it? Will we? Won’t we? Will it be built? Won’t it be built? Will we win? No we won’t,” Eddy replies. “Darling, excuse me if I miss it actually starting.” That’s about as nasty as the episode gets when discussing the games, which is a shame. That’s like a Jay Leno joke in the middle of The Daily Show.
While preparing for Douglas’ arrival, Patsy wonders why they must hit up the hip parties that Douglas will surely take them to when they can just go have a drink and hit on waiters at their regular spot, but Eddy eggs her on.
Alas, Michael Douglas doesn’t come. He’s given his tickets to Eddy’s ex-husband Marshall (Christopher Ryan) and his wife Bo (Mo Gaffney), who carry on an unnecessary subplot about Marshall’s supposed sex addiction that would be a complete waste if it weren’t for Gaffney’s commitment to the brash Bo.
Eddy and Patsy make it to one party together, but are summarily kicked out after Eddy harasses McCartney (“Patsy knows your dad, sweetheart,” Eddy says. “I had him once in a small backstage in Hamburg. I think it was him; it was one of the four. It could have been Yoko Ono,” Patsy throatily replies.) They get lost in the Olympic Stadium, leading to a dream sequence where the two sputter their way through a race, with the Union Jack flowing proudly from their shoulders, where they are the only competitors and are given gold medals for their efforts. In a final scene, Patsy grabs the Olympic torch from Edina so she can light her cigarette off it.
This may be the last outing for Patsy and Edina, unless Saunders decides to resuscitate the duo when the show hits 25 (or that movie actually happens, which I’m sure will make a great triple bill with the Veronica Mars and Deadwood flicks). There’s a wonderful scene sandwiched in the middle of the special, in which Patsy, hooked up to an IV, is recuperating from a particularly confining pair of body-shaping underwear that feels like the AbFab of yore. Eddy confesses that she feels as if the world is closing up on her. “I know what you’re feeling, Eddy,” Patsy says, “but I mean, I just don’t even care.”
Saffy encourages them to get out and enjoy the games, but it turns out their interest in sport extends only to when Patsy slept with Saffy’s gym master in the long jump pit. “What are you going to do? Just sit in here and fester?” Saffy asks. There’s a pause. “Oh piss off!” Patsy intones back. There are few examples of female friendship anywhere else on TV that are as true as AbFab. Patsy and Edina may be boozy, drug-addled crones, but at least they are boozy, drug-addled crones together.