Sirens (US)

4 out of 5

Developed by: Denis Leary, Bob Fischer

covers seasons 1 and 2

This is a “duh” statement to echo across decades and decades of TV, but ensemble shows live and die by their casting. I think we’re familiar enough with leads being a key factor in our appreciation of a show, but we can be more accepting of side characters being off color; they show up, do their side-character bit, we roll our eyes, and then back to the actors we care about. But when you run across shows in which the whole cast is enjoyable to spend time with, it throws sudden shade across all the others series you’ve tolerated with bum supporting characters.

The US edition of Sirens – adapted from a single season UK show – is pretty much just a workplace comedy, with the “workplace” being flexible due to it being roving, focusing on three EMTs in Chicago, but one thing that very much puts in a comedy comfort zone right away is, as expected from my preamble, the cast: Michael Mosley and Kevin Daniels are fantastically funny as our buddy-paramedics, playing off of each other with great timing and balance, and new recruit Brian – played by Kevin Bigley – is the perfect wildcard in the mix, doing a naive shtick with just enough self-awareness to keep it fresh. The trio is then well-supported by a mix of personalities of fellow paramedics, but also by Mosley’s girlfriend (Jessica McNamee), a cop, which allows our episodic-focuses to spread out even more, and also gives us some loose relationship arcs to follow across the two seasons.

Everyone is very giving to their fellow actors, and the patter is exceedingly well acted such that it comes across very naturally as believable shit-talk between friends, springing from whatever crisis the paramedics or cops have just solved. Even with our wildcards – Brian, or, for the cops, the doofy Billy (Josh Segarra) – the characters feed off of scenarios without chewing scenery.

Writing, of course, plays a part in this. While the show starts in pretty predictable territory, with “funny” emergencies providing banter fodder, and the subject matter treading in the faux-edgy stylings of co-developer Denis Leary (and even only a few years back at this point – a 2014 show, looking back from 2021 – it steps a little wobbly on the line between progressive and obnoxious), once other writers take over past the midway point of the first season, it feels like the series really hits a groove. The emergencies can still be humorous, but not in such obvious ways as before, and we’re even allowed to occasionally tread into more serious calls, without it diluting the humor – the show tones things down to be more realistic, and that allows the actors to sink into their characters more and elevate the humor on their side more organically.

It’s still very silly, of course, but with such great casting and an incredibly natural flow that develops, Sirens becomes the kind of comedy you keep putting on for just that one more episode, thus bummed out that it only made it to two seasons before getting canned.