Irish friendship dramedy Can't Cope Won't Cope should be your next Netflix binge
Irish TV dramedy Can’t Cope Won’t Cope follows two twenty-something best friends, Aisling (Seána Kerslake) and Danielle (Nika McGuigan), as they drink and party their way through Dublin. Though the girls, Aisling, a thrillseeker who works in finance, and Danielle, an even-tempered art student focused on graduating, are inherently different, at first it seems like the fun won’t ever stop. The girls stay out all night drinking and dancing, only to be rescued by a benevolent taxi driver at the end of the night.
But the show distinguishes itself from straight comedies like Broad City as it quickly becomes clear that the girls’ relationship is more codependent than symbiotic. “We’re basically the same person,” Danielle says in an early season one episode, “[once] we woke up in a pool of vomit and we didn’t know if it was hers or mine.”
“I didn’t feel the need to contribute another story about best friends in the city,” creator Stefanie Preissner tells EW.
Instead, she was more interested in exploring the toxic side of these friendships.
“I had a lot of templates for male-female friendships, boundaries that I was told [about] by women in my life,” she says. “But I was never told how to manage my female relationships, and I’ve suffered more trauma at the hands of my female friends than I have from any man.”
What keeps the viewer hooked is how well the show pulls off the tricky feat of establishing the genuine bond between the two women while never resorting to shallow cattiness when unraveling the unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
“Neither of the girls are cruel of evil, it’s just this sort of pattern the girls have gotten into,” Preissner says.“It’s not as blatant as a boyfriend being physically abusive.”
As season 1 unfolds, Aisling is set on a path of self-destruction and alcoholism, puking in the bathroom at work leads to being arrested for public drunkenness, and she possessively clings to Danielle as her life falls apart. Equally worrying is how easily Danielle falls into a caretaker role for Aisling, even stifling her own desire to study abroad because she worries it’ll upset Aisling. When the pair have a falling out at the end of season one, it seems inevitable.
“There kind of always is a fall out when people are that codependent and boozy,” Preissner says.
As season 2 starts, Danielle is studying abroad in Vancouver, and the pair are in separate countries without much hope of reconciling. And though Aisling was distraught when Danielle left, she surprisingly fares better when they’re apart. She scores a fancy new job and makes some new friends while Danielle flounders in Vancouver.
“It’s really easy to see Aisling as the problem,” Preisser says of season 2, “and you find out that without Aisling, Danielle is still messed up and insecure and needy.”
At the end of season 2, everything comes to a head after Danielle returns to Dublin, and Preissner confirms that the second season is the last for the show.
“I thought it would be better to leave it as a good thing,” she says.
The two seasons are only twelve episodes in total, but the story arc is satisfying and the ending feels final, and now that both seasons are available internationally on Netflix it makes for the perfect binge. Those sad the show is so brief can take comfort in the fact that Preissner is currently developing TV shows in the U.S. with Paramount and First Look Media.
Can’t Cope is ultimately a deep meditation on the nuances of female friendship, a sadly still relatively unexplored topic in media. One which Preissner continues to delve into as she hosts a podcast with her real life long-distance best friend, Rachel Yoder, called Situationships, where they explore the intricacies of different types of relationships. The “Best Friends” episode starts with Preissner’s wise warning: “Even though Instagram would like you to believe that female friendships are super easy and inspirational, they are not. They take serious time, emotional investment, negotiation and effort.”