Like everyone else, I have been watching a lot of really good television recently so much so in fact, I have had to break this post into two halves. Here is a little snapshot of what’s on my telly at the moment.
Based on the book of the same name, Firefly Lane centres around two best friends who grew up together and how they navigate this friendship during their adult lives but the story is much more than this. It stars Katherine Heigl as Tully Hart, hard-hitting broadcast journalist and presenter, and Sarah Chalke as the girl next door, Kate Sanders. On paper, they could not appear to be more opposite. On the surface, both women seem like they have their lives in control but as we dig deeper we find just like the rest of us, they have issues and traumas they need to work through. Through a series of flashbacks we see the childhood trauma Tully faced and the impact this has on her in the present. With Kate, we see her struggle with her parent’s marriage and later on being a mother. After her career had taken a step back she is acutely aware of the fact, her husband and best friend have the careers they longed for and while she is not jealous of them you see she wants to be back at work. The show time jumps from 1974 when they meet to the present day. The younger Tully (played by Ali Skovbye) and Kate (Played by Roan Curtis) are just as wonderful and captivating as their adult counterpoints, never missing a beat in some hard storylines such as Rape and violence. The show demonstrates a very intimate portrayal of friendship spanned over a lifetime which is not often portrayed on screen. You see how two women grow up together and develop a bond of what can be described as unconditional love, akin to that you would have for a sibling. They are essentially platonic soulmates. You see how even during the most shocking circumstances, they do not give up on each other, for example, Tully keeps the fact, Kates brother is gay from her while Kate inadvertently turns Tully’s professional career upside down, yet the two of them remain as devoted to each other as they have ever done. Why is why in a series of flash-forwards in the future, which indicates something has happened between the both of them, we are left with more questions than answers which are not resolved even in the last episode of the season leading us to believe their story is not over.
The writing was brilliant and able to catch the nuance and delicacy of female friendships and the deep soulful connections women make. The time jumps were seamless and fell perfectly into the storytelling, however, there are a couple of moments during their university life that would have been worth exploring a bit more – especially as they provide a glimpse into the fact this was a seminal point in their friendship.
The best way I can describe this show is to say it is a mix between cold case CSI. The show follows a police team headed by DCI Cassie Stewart (played by Nicola Walker) and DI Sunil Khan (played by Sanjeev Bhaskar) as they unravel historic crimes and deaths. It is one of the better ITV drama’s currently on screen. Unforgotten tackles some strong topics such as sexual assault, mental health, grief and the complexities of the impact the job when you are exposed to this on a regular basis due to your job. Walker is as wonderful playing a lonely, wine-drinking, grief-stricken police officer who struggles not to internalise the stories of the victims and their families. While she is a brilliant DCI, her personal life is a work in progress. Bhaskar is brilliant as a South Asian police officer. Rather than the male ego we are used to seeing in police shows, he displays empathy, understanding, and respect for Nicola’s character. There were some moments of will they won’t they which I feel could have been left out of it but the show quickly sees the strength in their partnership actually comes from their platonic relationship. There are some awkward moments between them that are deliberate to show the stark contrast in their personalities.
Each season is six episodes, each of them just as captivating as the next. Unlike other police dramas, this show also looks at the lives of the potential suspects and the fact they are related to the incident that has changed their lives, and how news of this unravels their current lives. For example, one suspect worked as a prostitute in the 1980s as a young woman. Now married with children, due to the case being reopened, she has to share the stories about an old version of herself with her family. We see the implications of this change over time.
It’s a Sin
Set in the height of the aids epidemic within the UK, It’s a Sin is a hauntingly beautiful show. Created by Russell T Davies, the show is loosely based on his and his friend’s experiences as gay men in the UK during the start of the aids epidemic. The show features a brilliant ensemble cast, each one creating believable characters we wholeheartedly invest in from the get-go. We start off by seeing Ritchie (Played by Olly Alexandr) and his friends finding each other in London. Ritchie and Jill (played by Lydia West) both want to be actors and attend the same school. The others have left home to make it their own way in the city. They are brought together to reside in the Pink Palace as they create their chosen family. Out of all the cast, Lydia west’s portrayal of Jill really resonated with me. Based on a real-life Jill, she takes the troubles of the world on her shoulders, trying to help her friends as she sees the hold the Aids on those she loves. You see the battles members of the group face with families, Richie for example isn’t able to share with his family he is gay, Roscoe (played by Omari Douglas) is essentially run out of his family home and unable to attend his sister’s wedding. The show also gives you an insight into how those who have suffered from aids were treated by those in authority from hospital staff, doctors to the police, and in turn the general public. There is a poignant scene with a mug that shows how little informed people like Jill and her friends are about the disease and the misinformation there was out there. As the season goes on the show becomes more and more harrowing. There is a particular episode featuring a protest which was important but hard to watch.
Outside of the main group of friends, the show includes a myriad of wonderful talent. Neil Patrick Harris plays an openly gay man who protects Colin (played byColin Morris-Jones) from a boss of a company who cannot come to terms with his sexuality and assaults the new male recruits. Keely Hawes plays Ritchie’s mother. A conservative woman who has to comes to terms with the fact her boy is both gay and dying of aids. Like many others at the time, she sees both of these things as a disease and this impacts her actions and how she looks after Ritchie back in his hometown away from his friends. It also features Stephen Fry as a closeted Tory politician. While the show is hard to watch in some areas, it is an education on society and its attitudes towards gay men and women. It also serves as a reminder of how far we have yet to go. For example, there are some scenes in the programme which depict the attitudes we see displayed today.
The most endearing part of the show is how it portrays the importance of your chosen family and how vital they are when you are working out who you are and being able to be unapologetically yourself creating some wholesome moments leading you to want to be able to live in the pink palace.
It took me living back at home to finally be able to watch Bulletproof and it didn’t disappoint. Created by Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters This is a police show that focuses on two cops, Bishop (played by Clarke) and Pike (played by Walters) who are partners and best friends as they investigate crimes with their unit. The show has an element of Bad Boys flair to it and from the first episode, you see the bond between the boys (Bishop literally moves in with Pike and his family in the first season) Mixed with the comedy they throw into the stories which make you laugh in areas you maybe shouldn’t. Through the series, you see that despite their different backgrounds, they both have their own issues. Pikes’s dad expects him to go down a path laid out for him, Bishop was brought up in care and didn’t know his parents. You see how both of these things bring them together but also impact them separately as individuals. It is their difference that allows them to be the friend and brother they both need. The partnership just fits seamlessly and you imagine both men along with the rest of the cast are wonderful friends off-screen. My favorite parts of the show include some of the comedy injected into the script. It is perfect dry humour needed in a drama like this. Along with the stunts, the laughs, and the quick pace of the storylines, the show is fun and is the perfect thing to watch at the end of the day. The show has an element of rawness to it which I like. Rather than shooting the showbiz version of London, you see the more realistic version of London, the one I personally see. Not just the small businesses and outdoor markets but also the poverty, the estates, the impact of living in the city for black kids. It tackles issues such as gang crimes in London among young kids in a way not many police dramas do.
The Bold Type
If you missed The Bold Type in the UK, have no fear all four seasons are now on Netflix ready for your binging pleasure. It follows three badass women navigating their lives in their twenties. It is empowering, messy, beautiful, terrifying in parts but also fun and very real portrayal your twenties. You see Kat (played by Aisha Dee) who is the powerful social media manager for Scarlett Magazine, exploring her identity as a black queer woman. She wants to fix the injustices and exploitation she sees in the world and the show looks at how she does and the conflicts it can bring out within you. Jane (played by Katie Stevens) is the writer of the trio who wants to share impactful stories and make a difference with her stories. While I wouldn’t say she is naive as such, she is definitely, the one who is most sheltered and this comes across in a beautiful way. Sutton (played by Meghann Fahy) is actually my favourite. She is a fighter who has had to kick her way to even get through the doors at Scarlett magazine. The show is a product of the millennial age. Made by millennial women for millennial women. It tackles taboos such as female masturbation and conversation about sex, pregnancy, showcasing women who are ambitious and what it means to have strong friendships and bonds within the workplace which is refreshing to see. Jackie (played by Melora Hardin) is a wonderfully empathetic boss who takes the girls under her wing providing guidance and wisdom to all the staff. In all respects, she is the antithesis to the magazine mogul we have seen portrayed in films such as The Devil Wears Prada. The writing for the show is beautifully done and the supporting cast is as enigmatic and wholesome as the main team.
The Flight Attendant
Holy mother forking shirtballs are the first words that come to mind when I talk about The Flight Attendant. It is based on a book written by Chris Bohjalian and produced by Kaley Cuoco. It has been billed as a comedy but I feel the more correct description for this would be, it is a dramedy. The writing is sharp and I mentioned it is messy but the show is deliberately written this way rather than it being an accident. The show follows flight attendant Cassandra Bowden (Played by Kaley Cuoco) and her flight crew on a trip to Bangkok. She spends a night with a passenger from the flight only to wake up and find him dead. Afraid she is being framed Cassandra tries to figure out who he truly was and what happened. Through this, you learn more about her traumatic childhood, her drinking habits, paranoia leading you to ultimately question if Cassandra is a good person or not. There are moments where you are meant to feel she is a horrible person and to an extent she is. She is human and therefore flawed but while you do understand she has underlying issues and can empathise with this, she isn’t always a likable character. There are times where she could have been a better friend to those around her (particularly Megan and Annie played by Rosie Perez and Zosia Mamet) It is a short series (8 episodes in total) and the plot moves impeccably fast. This isn’t a show you can watch in the background simply, because a lot happens, you may blink and miss someone getting killed. Like The Bold Type, The Flight Attendant is one series that is made for right at this moment and in this era. A brilliantly diverse cast, it tackles a lot of subjects often not explored in TV, in particular, the way you see Cassie works through her trauma and getting to grips with the childhood abuse she has been through towards the end is powerful. The one thing I think which lets the show down slightly is the last scene. She gets a particular offer which I am not sure is realistic but also I am ok with that and it tee’s it up nicely for the second season which has recently been announced.
The entire cast on this series is wonderful. Kaley was phenomenal in her portrayal of Cassandra. Her combination of comedy mixed with terror and trauma is truly magnificent. It takes a lot of emotional energy to play a person like Cassie and she brings the nuance needed to deliver this incredibly well. Merele Danbridge was wonderful as a black policewoman fighting her way through the misogyny and white privilege within the force. On the surface, some of the storylines is quite jarring in the sense some of the writing could appear pandering but the conversations between her and her partner are quite vital. These are conversations we need to normalise and see onscreen in order to recongnise it is good to have them off-screen. Another refreshing element of the show is that it didn’t end with Kaley Cuoco’s character having a love interest but rather taking autonomy of her own life. The show leaves you on the edge of your seat right up to the last frame.
What are you watching at the moment? Let me know.