I have a problem with BBC.
More specifically I have a problem with BBC writing.
With famous and award-winning series like Sherlock, Doctor Who and Being Human, BBC has an amazing variety of well-written tv shows.
However every BBC TV show has one simple thing in common: they all deteriorate in quality over time.
This isn’t unusual for any TV show that goes over 2 or 3 seasons and I’m sure you can think of one example of a show that you originally loved then a new season came out and you were disappointed.
This happens to me a lot but this is the first time I have being dismayed at the sudden change in tone.
Introducing SEASON 5 of the Peaky Blinders…
If you haven’t seen Peaky Blinders, let me catch you up. I will obviously avoid spoilers and any telling details because most of my criticism is based upon style, tone and use of cinematic tools.
Peaky Blinders follows the infamous Tommy Shelby who is the head of the Shelby family, and the head of the Peaky Blinders (a gang involved in gambling, blackmail and general gang-related activities). Tommy is intellectual and cold after returning to Birmingham after World War 1 (WW1). He has to navigate all the strategic nonsense related with trying to be the head of a gang. The show is known for its use of modern music to complement the edgy and gritty tone of the show. Featuring dramatic contrast and gorgeous costuming, the show has generated themed club nights and plenty of fan films.
I loved this show. Key word: loved.
Tommy Shelby is the typical male lead who is damaged, pushes everyone away, treats the people around him like pawns and clearly has some trust issues. His PTSD from serving in WW1 is used only when the plot is lacking other gang threats and he seems to lack any other form of vulnerability.
Tommy isn’t the reason I stopped liking the show. This is the one time that this cold intellectual bad boy trope is well-done.
The other characters within the Shelby family are equally as cliché but it is fine because they are real and somewhat believable. Previous seasons have demonstrated the tension between these family members and how each member wants something – which is good writing because I know what each character wants and that affects how they act.
Now the issue with the first two episodes of the new season can be broken down into three parts:
The modern take on the soundtrack of a gritty 1920/30s crime drama has been a great pull for the show. The music on previous seasons had the ability to rile you up, make you sad, or even make you fall in love. I don’t doubt that there are loads of playlists compiling the songs used and some of the tunes are amazing.
The first episode of season 5 has this iconic music but what is painful about this time round is that it feels forced and tries to cover up for the lack of persuasive plot. The music cuts in over the subtitle written in the identifiable Peaky Blinders font which takes the whole screen.
This is fine but within the first episode, it felt forced and overused that they know works for their audience.
It’s painful to hear your own accent butchered on national television. This isn’t a major point but I was disappointed by the style of Glaswegian accent that the show chose to use in its second episode. I knew that a Glaswegian gang would be showcasing on the new season as they had advertised pretty extensively for Glaswegian extras and actors for the show.
The actor playing Jimmy McCavern, the head of Billys Boys, is actually Irish and whilst this doesn’t immediately mean you can’t do a Glaswegian accent accurately, I do think there is a habit in casting rooms to think that Irish and Scottish are interchangeable.
They are not. Stop. Stop doing that.
The accent turned me off and I was disappointed that such a large AND FAMOUS show couldn’t be bothered to make sure this was correct. Why? Because the accuracy of an accent affects the believability of a character. I do not fear the Billy Boys because their leader has an awfully bad accent.
3.The use of the Lady Macbeth plot
Now this is where I decided I was opting out of watching Peaky Blinders until it has been released online in its entirety.
Arthur Shelby’s wife (Tommy’s sister in law), Linda, is one of the most un-relatable characters who lacks a solid personality. Every season she has been in, she has changed and not in a character development way. She has been changed to serve a particular purpose within the story.
I’ll be honest, I have no clue what Linda actually wants because it changes a lot.
One minute she wants Arthur to be an angelic holy being then the next, she wants to overthrow Tommy.
Actually the only woman who seems to be truly consistent in her desires is Ada, Tommy’s sister.
When the start of the Lady Macbeth plot registered in my brain, I just shook my head. Not only is the storyline where the wife convinces her husband to overthrow the person in charge repetitive, it is also a tired and misogynistic idea.
Linda, a catholic woman, who previously tried to make Arthur see the light now is obsessed with power and control.
It is a jump in personality of a character and yes, you can make the argument that Linda has been changed by the environment but she was a strong woman with morals who not only abandons her morals but is now obsessed with power…
This storyline also smells of a scriptwriter thinking: “Oh wow, I’m so smart look at that reference.”
To conclude, those are my reasons as to why I’m no longer watching this season of Peaky Blinders as it airs.
I will catch up when it’s on Netflix but until then I’m giving it a miss.
What do you think?
Also let me know if you would be interested in a full script analysis of Peaky Blinders.
Cover Image found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/peakyblinders/