Seeing The Women That Turn Up On British Television, I Think I Better Understand The Culture That Produced Margaret Thatcher
I don’t know what’s in British water, but they have a knack for creating engaging, dynamic female characters for television. For me one of the best is Supt. Jane Tennison (Hellen Mirren) from multiple seasons of Prime Suspect. After Tennison I wasn’t expecting to find any other strong women on television any time soon.
That is, till I saw Happy Valley, which also like Prime Suspect was created and written by a woman; the former by Sally Wainwright, the latter by Lynda La Plante
So now I am honored to add Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) to those esteemed ranks.
Though what I initially found interesting is that Euros Lyn directed the initial two episodes of Happy Valley, since he also did an episode of Sherlock, The Blind Banker, easily the weakest of the first (if not the entire) series.
As you can probably guess, Happy Valley is anything but, as Sgt. Cawood works to partrol the streets of a small town in Yorkshire, while raising her grandson, Ryan (Rhys Connah), who was born of the rape of her daughter. As if that weren’t a difficult enough task, she also lives with her sister, Claire Cartwright (Siobhan Finneran), a former heroin addict.
Though to be fair to Claire, she’s actually a great character, and the only mistakes she makes tend to be out of love, not malice.
And I know that that sounds a bit like drama overkill, but it’s presented in a natural fashion, in easily easily-digesitble chunks and doesn’t come off as either maudlin or ham-fisted.
It’s good stuff, and great television, which justifies comparisons between Netflix and HBO.
Happy Valley is currently on Netflix.
Binge, and be happy.