With a new season of the much-loved drama Cold Feet beginning next week on TVNZ on Demand, Tara Ward takes a trip down memory lane to remind us all why it remains such an iconic show.
2003 was a shit year for television heroines. I spent the year in a chronic state of dehydration, first thanks to McLeod’s Daughter’s Claire driving off a cliff and then Rachel Bradley from Cold Feet slamming her car into a rubbish truck. I cried too many tears over the sudden deaths of these fictional TV characters, even though I knew it was all make believe. These shows were appointment viewing back in the day, and I loved Claire and Rachel like they were my own flesh and blood.
Goodbye, my lovers, goodbye, my friends. You have been the ones, you have been the ones for me. *plays Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ on repeat*.
Sixeeen years have passed since Rachel’s shock death in the (original) penultimate episode of Cold Feet, and it still hits me like a rubbish truck careering down a suburban street. Advertising exec Rachel had never been happier. She’d reunited with her one true love Adam, they had a beautiful baby son, and had just bought their dream home that very morning.
Couldn’t we have let Rachel enjoy the moment without being hit by a two-tonne lorry? Apparently not. Screw you, rubbish truck. Look what you did to us.
Cold Feet was the iconic British ‘90s comedy-drama about a bunch of middle class thirty-somethings navigating their way through life, trying to be adults and stuffing it up, over and over again. It was warm and funny and filled with the optimism of the new millennium, with early storylines featuring a new-fangled invention called a ‘mobile phone’ and plenty of fabulous ’90s fashion. It was set in a time when bootleg cargo pants were king and nobody had ever heard the word ‘Google’.
Watching again in 2019, Cold Feet is just as quirky and genuine and emotional as it ever was. It pulls you in with sharp writing and loveable characters who are as endearing and fallible as your own mates. And I’d forgotten about the flashbacks and fantasy sequences that pop up out of nowhere, like the time a giant testicle chased Adam through a shopping centre.
I mean, a giant testicle on prime-time television, what a time to be alive.
But more than anything else, Cold Feet was a celebration of friendship. This was a group of ordinary mates up to their armpits in adulting, trying to make a go of marriage and parenthood and careers and often failing miserably.
Though they often drove each other mad, Adam, Rachel, Pete, Jenny, Karen and David were each other’s family. For five glorious seasons, they shared the burden of whatever shit storm life threw at them – affairs, alcoholism, giant testicles – and made a thousand wrong choices along the way. They were as clueless as the rest of us. All they wanted was to be happy, and maybe also have a new brick-sized Nokia, some fresh chunky highlights and witness the happy day when Justin and Britney went public in double denim.
If it happened in real life, it happened in Cold Feet. The three couples fell in and out of love. They faced infidelity, infertility, redundancy, the death of parents, divorce, toilet training problems, and crises aplenty. The new millennium came and went. Karen was bored batshit as a stay at home parent, Adam battled testicular cancer, Jenny took off to New York and returned pregnant and alone, Pete married Jo the Australian yoga instructor, and David hooked up with his divorce lawyer.
And Rachel? That truck, Coldplay, and a tsunami of tears.
Through six years of highs and lows, Rachel and Adam’s relationship was the glue that kept Cold Feet together. Their love story began with a rose jammed between Adam’s arse cheeks and ended with Rachel lying dead on a hospital gurney. They’d endured Rachel’s secret marriage to Kris-with-a-K, an abortion, testicular cancer and Adam’s questionable shirt choices, but it was all over when Rachel dropped that cassette in the car. Is there a more ‘90s way to shuffle off this mortal coil? I’d bet my Sony Walkman there’s not.
Rachel’s death in 2003 saw her friends unite one last time. The final episode of season five saw the friends make a long walk across the beach in Wales to scatter Rachel’s ashes, while Coldplay twanged away in the background to destroy any last shreds of emotions I had left. It was the end of Rachel, and the end of classic Cold Feet.
Nobody said it was easy, nobody said it would be this hard. Cold Feet was resurrected in 2016, but in the immortal words of Chris Martin, “oh, take me back to the sta-arr-arrt”. Cold Feet made us laugh and it made us cry, so chuck a rose between your butt cheeks, throw some butterfly clips in your hair and take yourself back to 1997. Rachel will thank you for it.
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