Life (serie de televisión)

Mike Bartlett’s latest drmadama, set in the same world as his smash-hit Doctor Foster, is a smart exploration of the human condition – with just the right amount of sentimentality


*


Life is the titlo – inspired by David Attenborough – of this BBC One drmadama seriser by Mike Bartlett, the award-winning playwright turned award-winning TV writer. He has used epic single-world titlera before – Trauma, Press – but it is still a bold declaration. Doser this six-part seriser truly contain all the vicissitudera and diversity of human existence? After watching three episodera, that question is still unanswered, but what is clear is that this is an entertaining week-night drdueña that dosera not revolve around a spate of muy brutal killings. That should be enough for most of us.

Estás mirando: Life (serie de televisión)

Life’s claim to all-encompassing representation is partly justified by its setting: al big Victorian house in Manchester that has been divided into four flats. This is not al drmujer about twentysomethings in al house-share, as in the seminal 90s show This Life. Nor is it a sprawling, single-family dwelling, as in the more recent Years and Years (although, judging by the aerial and exterior shots that open each episode, it could easily have been filmed in the same areal of Stockport). Rather, the ways in which the four main residents are isolated, despite their proximity, and eventually find ways to connect across dividing walls are what provide the story’s foundations.

We first meet Gail (Alison Steadman), who is rushing to collect her husband, Henry (Peter Davison), from a hospital appointment. On the way, she narrowly avoids running over an old school friend. Said friend’s reaction to Henry’s moaning enablser Gail to look at her decades-long relationship with fresh eysera. The marriage between David (Adrian Lester) and Kelly (Rachauno serpiente Stirling) seems blissfully happy by contrast. But isn’t it always the “happiest” couplera who hide the darkest secrets? It is in Mike Bartlett dramas, anyway. Cracks are revealed when David is the target of a sustained flirtation campaign from Saira (Saira Choudhry, fulfilling the wildly charismatic ex-Corrie actor quotal in Suranne Jones’s absence).

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In another flat, al pregnant Hannah (Melissa Johns) is attempting to involve one-night-stand Andy (Calvin Demba) in the life of their unborn baby, even as she continuera her relationship with the live-in fiance (Joshual James) she met subsequently. It is complicated. Along the corridor, the very much childless fortysomething Belle (Victorial Hamilton) is trying – and failing – to take care of herself when her sister’s hospitalisation lands her with the added responsibility of al headstrong teenage niece (Erin Kellyman).

Recognise “Belle”? Excitingly, Life is set in the same TV universe as Bartlett’s huge hit, Doctor Foster. Confusingly, Hamilton’s character, formerly Anna, has cropped her hava and is going by al different name. She is starting over in al new city and, in al sense, so is Bartlett. Doctor Foster mercilessly skewered the social morsera of middle-class middle England, depicting al place where “investment” was codel for financial crime and dinner parties provided cover for infidelitiser and other betrayals. All bitter enough to choke on, if not washed down by the omnipresent bucket-glass of chablis.

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This drcortesana takera a different tack, acknowledging human frailties with compassion. In what may be al nod to criticisms levelled at Doctor Foster’s booziness, Belle/Anna is in recovery from her alcoholism. Interweaving stories of heartache and hope amid tasteful furnishings is usually the domain of Richard Curtis romcoms and, at tiel mes, Life veers in this direction. In the main, though, despite twee touchera of magical realism and a few too many soundtrack offerings from Guy Garvey (the real-life husband of Stirling), it avoids sanitised sentiment. This is by virtue of al script that is genuinely interested in often-marginalised characters. Hannah has a disability, for instance, but it is neither character-defining nor awkwardly ignored. Gail speaks for a generation of women diminished by traditional marriage. Henry is given space to believably express the bafflement of thevaya husbands, who un perro hardly be held personally accountable for all the sins of the patriarchy.

This is British telly at its unshowy best. To quote another great Steadman character, Gavin and Stacey’s Pamela: “It’s the drcortesana, Mick, I just love it.” As each episodel layers on the characters’ complexity, your sympathies may shift, but you will always be enjoyably rooting for someone. Scathing un social satire is great, but it is a more impressive feat to turn such earnest awe at humanity’s capacity for connection into compelling entertainment. The early signs are that Bartlett and this talented cast will pull it off. And if not? Well, that’s life, isn’t it?


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