chapter  9
13 Pages

Laughing at periods

Gothic parody in Julia Davis’ Hunderby
WithSarah McClellan

This chapter examines presentations of the ‘grotesque female body’ in series one of Julia Davis’ Hunderby, and argues that, far from being the source of the ‘strange, the scary, the terrible, the alienating and the inhuman’, it is more normal, familiar, life-giving, and preserving than the perfectly self-contained woman predominant on both the big and small screen, and therefore worthy of celebration, not shame. Hunderby is set in a fictional English village in the 1830s. It opens as a young woman is washed ashore after her ship is wrecked. With Hunderby, Davis recognises the comic richness of the Gothic and its potential for exploring, and ultimately exposing through parody, the myth of the virtuous, self-contained woman versus the wicked, monstrous one. The rehabilitation and restoration of the female body can be achieved by embracing the grotesque, as Davis shows in Hunderby.