As an equal of Simon Pegg’s Tim, it’s the ordinariness of Jessica Hynes’s Daisy that makes her an enduring character.
I’m pretty sure everyone has a comfort TV show. You know, the one you tenderly take from the shelf after a bad day, with that warm feeling in your heart as its familiar menu screen loads up. Some things, no matter how many times you’ve seen them, never stop being amazing. This is how I feel about Spaced.
Spaced first aired in 1999, and was a brain child of comic geniuses Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes. It was also directed by Edgar Wright and stars – amongst a cast of incredible British comedians – Nick Frost, in the role that got him involved with the whole acting thing. For anyone that knows of and adores the ‘Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy’, this really is where the magic all began.
Daisy Steiner is not just perfectly written and portrayed by Jessica Hynes, but also one of the greatest female characters. Ever
It can be difficult to pinpoint why exactly you love a show, but I instantly felt a connection to the main characters of Tim (Pegg) and Daisy (Hynes). I loved how scruffy yet cosy their flat was. I liked how much tea they drank, and the way they would sometimes wear the same clothes for multiple episodes, like actual people would. Nothing was glamorous, and while, on the one hand, a massive part of the show is fantastical and hallucinogenic, with pop culture references thrown in, it still feels like the clearest portrayal of being in your 20s and, in particular, being a struggling creative and film nerd in your 20s.
Of all the characters though, Daisy Steiner is not just perfectly written and portrayed by Jessica Hynes, but also one of TV’s greatest female characters. Ever. We meet her as she spontaneously moves in with Tim Bisley after bumping into him in a cafe and thinking he’s a drug dealer. He’s also in a similar, I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing-with-my-life situation, and they pretend to be a couple to fit (what they think are) the specifications for the flat they move in to.
Unlike other female TV characters, Daisy isn’t flawed in a cutesy, quirky, Zooey Deschanel-esque way; she’s not just a way to stir up drama amongst a social group that all sleep with the same guys. She’s flawed in the way that many of us are, through a lack of self-esteem and motivation. She says the wrong things and stumbles over the points she’s trying to make. She doesn’t always wear make-up or look perfectly groomed, and she deals with getting rejected.
Daisy’s problems are down to her choosing not to face them. And yet there’s a bravery to her
She’s trying to be a writer, but most of the time procrastinates in whatever way she can, be that throwing a spontaneous housewarming party or buying a dog. Her best friend, Twist (Katy Carmichael), is a superficial, celery-eating blonde who works in “fashion” (a launderette) and usually spends her time with Daisy either speaking about herself or patronising Daisy: “Daisy! Don’t you look nice? Bit of a midriff show. Big’s in this season. Good for you.”
While there’s a certain part of you that warms to Twist, you still can’t help but feel uncomfortable when her and Daisy are chatting, as they have absolutely nothing in common. The thing, though, is that Daisy is her own worst enemy. Her problems are down to her choosing not to face them, and yet at the same time there’s a bravery to her – she’s not afraid to speak her mind and tell evil bosses (or any boss, for that matter) to fuck off.
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Daisy stands out amongst other female TV characters through being so, well, normal. The state of limbo that she’s in, drifting about in distraction, is something many of us can relate to, and yet also interesting is that she’s in no way a stereotypical female. Throughout the show her and Tim are equals. They both enjoy games and films and going for a night down the pub. Perhaps the most fascinating part about Daisy’s character, and Spaced as a whole, is that it shows a platonic friendship between a man and a woman, with only subtle hints to something stronger developing between them.
Everything from her huge specs and exploration of bogling, to anecdotes about a girl named Mulan and toastie maker metaphors for relationships make Daisy Steiner hilarious and adorable, whilst at the same time a representation of women who is dimensional and unusual for TV. As Daisy says at her interview for Flaps magazine: “Girl Power!” – *peace sign*.
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All images: Channel 4