Series Review: A Very English Scandal (2018)

What? You thought I was taking a break from blogging just because it’s christmas? Pffft. Don’t be silly.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a show… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Very English Scandal”.

We follow Jeremy Thorpe (Hugh Grant), a British politician who’s beloved by many. But that could change if the people found out that he’d had a sexual relationship with a young man named Norman (Ben Whishaw). So really this is all about how Thorpe tries to cover up this part of his life, for fear of Norman exposing him. And I really liked the plot here. It not only gives us an engaging personal journey for both Thorpe and Norman, but we also get a fascinating look at how British politics and such worked in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s mainly steeped in drama, which it already handles very well, but what really gives it an edge is a sort of sly wit that makes it a lot more watchable. So yeah, the plot here is layered, fun, and overall quite engaging.

The characters here are layered, colorful, and just overall interesting. Hugh Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe, a highly charismatic British politician (paradoxical description, I know) who, as I already mentioned, has a secret… a secret that back in those days could be devastating if it would be brought into the light. So seeing him develop throughout the show as he deals with trying to hide his “shameful sins” is quite fascinating. And Hugh Grant is Hugh Great in the role. Ben Whishaw plays Norman Josiffe, the young man that Thorpe has his affair with. After they have a bit of a falling out, Norman kind of tries to expose this affair to the world. And seeing him go through all his struggles in the series is quite interesting. And Whishaw is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Alex Jennings, Patricia Hodge, Paul Hilton, Blake Harrison, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Murray Gold, and I think he did a great job with it. Remember how I said the storytelling here has kind of a sly wit to it? That often reflects in the score as well, as it both through its excellent main theme and a few other pieces carries an almost bouncy feel to it that captures the witty style quite well. That’s not to say that it’s all fun, as Gold also knows when to pull it back a bit and create some really good dramatic pieces.

Based on a book by John Preston, the show was written by Russell T. Davies and directed by Stephen Frears, and I think their teamwork here paid off quite well, as I think the craft on display here is really solid. There’s an energy to it all that makes it quite entertaining to follow, Frears (who is a generally a good director) really brought his A-game here. And Davies’ writing here presents all characters here in a way that doesn’t take much of an actual stance. Positives, negatives, both are shown here. The writing here is also surprisingly funny. Not in a straight-up comedy kind of way, but (again) in a sort of sly way.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“A Very English Scandal” is a surprisingly entertaining political drama filled with great acting. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Very English Scandal” is a 9,61/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “A Very English Scandal” is now completed.

Maybe Hugh Grant is more of a character actor than a proper leading man…

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