This week on the final episode of Outnumbered … Tensions rise as Sue tries to persuade her sister Angela to share the cost of their sick father’s care. Pete and Jake recover Karen’s lost hamster Tommy. Despite a terrible dress rehearsal, Ben shines as Spartacus in his school musical. And each of the Brockman children show that they’re going to turn out okay after all.
As the curtain falls on the final season of Outnumbered, we have one final set of lessons on life, parenting and family courtesy of Pete and Sue Brockman to cut out.
1. How not to lie
It was carried off by a raven.
In reality he jumped up and down on it, but to secure a new replacement phone Pete tries to come up with an explanation that is plausible and yet no one could have made up. Fail.
2. Don’t tempt fate
I know I shouldn’t say this but I think we may have finally got to a point where they’re all, you know … okay.
Pete really should know better by now than to tempt fate like this. But for once he is proven 100% right by episode’s end.
3. When all else fails, resort to cunning and deception
Jake, you’ve got a text from Alex.
Having been wrestled out of his place on the sofa by Jake, Pete resorts to underhanded tactics to get it back again.
4. Exercise diplomacy
Probably we should just all head off to bed.
Pete attempts to pour oil on troubled waters as the tension between Sue and her sister Angela rises. I’m not sure anyone has ever attempted this technique at the United Nations though.
5. No matter how bad things may seem, always remember they could be worse
Well, that could have gone worse. She doesn’t appear to be wanted by Interpol and there hasn’t been any physical violence yet.
Pete remains a master of articulating the worst-case scenario with respect to Angela.
6. Kick in haste, repent at leisure
Honestly, you kick your sister up the arse at a wedding once and no one ever lets you forget it.
Sue regrets a past hasty action. On the bright side (see rule #5), at least no one videoed it and put it on YouTube.
7. Provide sound career advice
Well, to employers [travel is] the equivalent of Sociology at Bolton.
Pete provides Jake with a compelling counter-argument to Angela’s assertion that “travel is the best degree you can get”.
8. Don’t start a sentence you don’t know how to finish
You have a responsibility to your family because they’re … there.
Claire’s impassioned plea to Angela to share the cost of taking care of their ailing father starts well but runs out of steam.
9. Anticipate all eventualities
Eager to show their support for a wavering Ben in his lead role in Spartacus: The Musical, Claire bags prime front row seats.
Otherwise we won’t be able to see anything when [other people] all start holding their phones up in the air.
Wise. Very wise. It also means that Jake gets an unobstructed view of the stage so he can hold his phone up in the air to video the performance.
10. And finally …
The most important lesson of all:
Well, that’s the answer to our problems – just let the kids sort everything out.
If only Pete and Sue had worked that one out earlier …
And so (barring perhaps one final Christmas special) that’s the end of Outnumbered. What started out as a fresh and sharply observed semi-improvised comedy about the unpredictability of children’s reactions to ordinary life evolved over five seasons into a more traditional family sitcom that remained funny but in a more formulaic way.
As a father of three children myself – two older boys and a younger daughter, just like the Brockmans but a few years younger – watching Outnumbered has always felt like a glimpse into my future. As role models for how to cope (and, occasionally, not cope) with the rigours of bringing up children, I could do far worse.