My review for this show should have been up over a week ago but due to some family tragedy, no posts have been uploaded in the past week so I apologise for that, but I am back with a large quantity of varying posts from now on, some of which have already been posted and much more to come.
As for the show itself, I actually feel I have benefited from taking a while to let it all sink in before rating and reviewing it because of how completely fresh and visceral the show felt.
I also think it is worth noting here that there has been some really great coverage of the show over the last few months, especially coming from members of the black and the LGBTQ communities and they are the voices that need to be amplified the most when covering content like this.
What Michaela Coel, who writes/directs/produces/stars here has created is something that feels so new to us because it dares to break traditional storytelling norms and addresses all sorts of topics with such a non-judgemental lens that it makes us feel like we haven’t seen the topics covered at all before.
The launch of the story is based off Coel’s real life experience of being drugged and assaulted, and from there the show shows us such fascinating looks at consent, abuse, sex, friendship, race, and much more.
Despite covering so many truly heartbreaking and serious subjects, the show never at all feels preachy and is actually at times shocking in the apparent sympathy it gives for people who would usually just be entirely condemned. There has been a lot of online hysteria about ‘cancel culture’ recently, but Michaela Coel here paints such a delicate picture of a wide range of people, who all have their positives and their faults, even if some have more than others, and she tries to dig into where everyone’s individual pain originates from.
Very few of the characters are traditionally ‘likeable’, even our leads, as they all do things that are very questionable throughout the show, but they are also kind and fun and full of life at other times. It is never about ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, it is just about being human.
The whole cast that appears throughout the 12 episodes do great work, but the lead three in particular are just so impressive and I think all three are going to win awards and get huge accolades are their careers continue. Michaela Coel, Weruche Opia, Paapa Essiedu are all able to tackle a wide range of emotions with apparent ease and they bounce off each other just like they have truly been friends for years (which actually is the case for Coel and Essiedu).
Coel recently spoke about how she turned down a big money offer from Netflix due to them not giving her ownership of the show, but you can tell that the BBC really gave her creative control and it paid off spectacularly. There are many episodes I could highlight to prove this point, but the finale in particular is such brave storytelling and for people who have already watched it you will understand when I say that there are some particular images from that episode that will forever be seared into my mind.
I think this is one of the best pieces of television made in a very long time, something that can stand alongside the likes of Fleabag, Hannibal, The Leftovers etc in recent years and is something every person should take time out of their schedule to watch.
Rating = 5/5