TV Show Talk: 'Peaky Blinders'

I've decided to start a new serial on my blog where I'll occasionally share a post about a TV show (or aspect of a TV show) on which I have strong feelings. Discussion is encouraged!
In this post, I'm simply going to talk (read: gush) about the BBC TV series Peaky Blinders, and why I love it so much.

This very post is very long ;) Like I said, I'm gushing. 

From the very first scene, this series showcases quality. I was drawn in by the chilling and vivid atmosphere, the grit and corruption and dark agendas made clear within just a few scenes. The cinematography, production and editing are utterly sublime. The dialogue is on a whole new level of excellence.  The relationships and their subtext are seductive and twisty. Effortlessly, I was lost in this fantastic new world and couldn't get enough of it. It totally immersed me. It sucked me into its dark underworld. 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 incredible each scene was. That sounds melodramatic, I know, but I have never witnessed such perfection in a TV show. It was staggering to watch.

"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, they're real, they're broken and they're 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. It's felt deeply by everyone. It's not trying to make the show romantic - it's showing the gritty and horrifying consequences of violence and poverty on men and women, and the writers never lose sight of this.

So yes, the show is violent. There's also a lot of sex. There's assault and there's rape, but not once is it 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 know that we don't need to. It's not there for that reason. Instead, they concentrate on the physical and psychological effects such attack has on her, and her characters changes as a result. But nor is it a plot device. It's a gut-wrenching reality of the situation and the characters involved. It's not a "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 them when they have to endure that, and he takes on the role of their 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 - 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."

I also love the family dynamics in Peaky Blinders. The Shelby boys might bicker and fight like animals, but in the end they'd die for each other. Tommy and Arthur are so close, as are Arthur and John, and despite their power struggles and frequent disagreements, Polly and Tommy 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 and 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, 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 her back...

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 determined to make them pay. 

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