The circumstances that bring together the lovestruck leads of Colin From Accounts, an Australian comedy streaming on Paramount+ in the U.S., are anything but cute. In the opening minutes of the premiere, microbrewery owner Gordon (Patrick Brammall) is driving to work when medical student Ashley (Harriet Dyer) walks in front of his car and flashes her nipple as she passes by. Distracted by the early-morning nudity, Gordon accidentally hits a dog, and the two scramble to get him to a veterinarian before it's too late. They make it to the vet in time, but they're faced with a choice: Put him down, or pay for his expensive, life-saving surgery and adopt the "high-needs dog" as their own.
Few things on this planet are worse than nearly murdering a dog — and it's no secret that viewers are more sympathetic to the plight of animals than that of their fellow humans — but Colin From Accounts makes lemonade out of lemons, spinning Gordon and Ashley's "anti-meet-cute" into romantic comedy gold. In fact, the show's ability to mine the darkest situations for laughs is its greatest strength, giving it a similar energy to British comedy Catastrophe, which also saw two strangers thrust together by parenthood (of a different kind).
Created by Brammall and Dyer, who are married in real life, Colin From Accounts follows Gordon and Ashley's winding journey as they reluctantly agree to care for Colin post-surgery. Neither is well-positioned for dog ownership — Ashley just got out of a breakup and lives in an apartment complex hostile to pets, while Gordon works all hours of the day and night — but they're not monsters; Gordon and Ashley understand that they're responsible for Colin's current condition (he can no longer use his back legs and relies on wheels to get around), and they commit to properly looking after him, regardless of the potential impact on their personal and professional lives.
In ways both literal and figurative, caring for Colin (a strong "human name," like a man in "accounts payable, who's working on the big merger," they decide) brings Gordon and Ashley closer. Out of dog-friendly housing options, Ashley moves into Gordon's spare room, at which point he discovers her habit of sleepwalking and urinating in places that aren't the toilet, prompting an enjoyable, if chaotic, trip to Costco in Episode 2, "Benedict Cumbercrapp." Ashley's presence tests Gordon's patience, but he soon realizes there's value in having someone around to not only share the responsibility of expressing Colin's anal glands, but to act as a buffer after a disastrous date. As the season progresses, the two continue to bicker and even joke that they're like "an old married couple," but everyone within a 10-mile radius can sense their mutual attraction — including Gordon's date (Christie Whelan Browne), who walks out after sitting through a "weird game of sexy Family Feud" between him and Ashley, who are posing as siblings.
But despite Gordon and Ashley's effortless chemistry, their will-they/won't-they romance develops alongside incredibly serious moments. Gordon recently completed treatment for testicular cancer, and his anxiety over a potential recurrence drives the first half of the season and becomes a major roadblock in his relationship with Ashley. (While the audience knows Gordon's medical history, he declines to tell Ashley, leading to a few classic rom-com mix-ups.) When they finally do take that first step toward acknowledging their feelings, it comes as a reaction to watching the grandmother (Heather Christie) of Ashley's best friend Megan (Emma Harvie) die in palliative care. As she drifts off, Christie's character offers some racist parting words, leaving Ashley, Gordon, and Megan in a horrified silence.
It's a credit to Brammall, Dyer, and the rest of the creative team that these two sides of Colin From Accounts — the breezy romance and the darker stories underneath — never feel unbalanced or positioned awkwardly alongside one another. Their peaceful coexistence plays like a celebration of the fact that there's still plenty of humor to be found in life's worst moments, and a reminder of the joys of finding someone (human, dog, or both) with whom to share them.
Colin From Accounts premieres Thursday, November 9 on Paramount+ with two episodes. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.