TV Show Talk: Peaky Blinders


I've decided to start a new discussion series on my blog where I'll talk about a TV show (or aspect of a TV show) on which I have strong feelings. Please feel free to share your thoughts and let's discuss it together. For this post, I'm talking about the BBC TV series Peaky Blinders.


From the very first scene, this series showcases quality. I was drawn in by the chilling and vivid atmosphere, the sublime cinematography and editing, and the grit, corruption, and dark agendas hinted at within just a few scenes. The dialogue is on a whole new level of excellence. The relationships and their subtext are seductive and twisty. I became immersed in this new world and couldn't get enough of it. It sucked me into its dark underworld, and I couldn't - and still can't - find a single fault within the entire production.

Every scene in Peaky Blinders is a work of cinematic art. From the editing to the filming to the artistic direction to the acting to the dialogue, there is so much to absorb and appreciate. There's no weak link. There are no weak scenes. My heart was literally pounding in every scene because I couldn't get enough of how layered and precise each scene was. Although it sounds melodramatic, the truth is I have never witnessed such perfection in a TV show.


Tommy Shelby on his horse in Peaky Blinders
Tommy Shelby - from IMDB



"You know the words. You're a whore. Baby's a bastard. But there's no word for the man who doesn't come back."


The characters are superb. They're raw, real, broken and vicious. They do what they have to do to survive, even as their mental strength crumbles and PTSD ravages their every move. I just love how sensitively and realistically trauma is written in this show; it's never brushed over, and we see the effect it has on the characters throughout the series. Even the violence isn't gratuitous. It's integral to the plot and the characters' journeys, and it's never sensationalised. The writers aren't trying to make the show romantic - they're not shying away from the horrifying consequences of violence and poverty on people, and it's appropriately disturbing.

Yes, the show is violent. There's also a lot of sex. There's assault and there's rape, but again, it's never romanticised or explicit. The writers are so careful with these instances and they never glamorise them. When Polly is raped, we don't see it in graphic detail, and the writers concentrate on the physical and psychological effects of such attack. She doesn't "shake it off". She changes, and the wounds will always be there. Nor is it a plot device. It's a gut-wrenching reality of the situation and the characters involved. It's no "small deal".

The same applies when Ada, Lizzie, and Grace are assaulted. Instead of romanticising these incidents, the writers show the effects each attack has on each woman. The women get the screen time to react and process, each assault is shown from their perspective instead of from their attacker, and the male characters on their side don't treat the incidents lightly, either. Tommy is extremely distressed for their pain, and he takes on the role of ally. He doesn't tell them to suck it up and move on. He's shaken, too, and he treats each incident with the gravity it requires. He respects their emotions and their pain and he does what he can to help them. Considering the era in which the story takes place, it's a refreshing surprise to see the writers handle such situations the way they do.



"We live somewhere between life and death. Waiting to move on. And in the end we accept it. We shake hands with the devils and we walk past them."


Arthur and Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders
Arthur and Tommy Shelby - from IMDB


I also love the family dynamics in Peaky Blinders. The Shelby boys might bicker and fight like animals, but they never abandon each other. Tommy and Arthur are so close, as are Arthur and John, and despite their power struggles and frequent disagreements, Polly and Tommy, too, respect and admire each other. As Tommy admits to her in season 4, "I need you back, Pol."

The romances are also fascinating. I was never a big Tommy and Grace shipper but I think it worked brilliantly for the story because Tommy saw an ideal in Grace that was almost out of his violent, poverty stricken world; it was quite something to watch, especially considering how he was with other people. With Grace around, he was different. I treasured that, even if I did think she was never as in love with him as he was with her.

Esme and John were a hilarious match from the start, but they were perfect for each other. Insane, but entertaining to watch.

As for season 5, I'm hoping we get to see a Tommy and Lizzie romance develop? I've always loved their bond and they're so protective of each other. I just hope and pray that May won't reenter the picture. I've never been a fan of Tommy and May's relationship because it doesn't have the depth and history that Tommy shares with the other woman in his life, and yet I get the impression the writers want to bring her back...


Tommy Shelby dancing with Grace in Peaky Blinders
Tommy and Grace - from IMDB



I'm not exaggerating when I say that Peaky Blinders is one of the best - if not the best - TV series out there. Every element of this production is outstanding. The cast is sublime. The characters and relationships are extremely dynamic. It's class and quality in every single way. Your heart will pound, your hands will sweat, and you'll watch this family grapple for survival in a harsh world that's as cruel as they are.




Have you watched this show? What do you think of it? 

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