So I think I’ve mentioned in the past that the Boy and I have a list of shows that we are slowly working our way through. For a long time, it was a physical list – a tatty piece of paper that had food and drink spilled on it, that was smudged and crinkled. It moved with us from our apartment to our house, and we kept adding to it in an unorganized way. And then recently, I decided this was not the way that modern people keep lists, and I moved it to a note on my iphone, and put it in sections (tv shows and mini-series; movies) and then added little check-boxes so we could see what had been watched more clearly. It was going to make life easy and our path of watching all these shows and movies easy.
That is, until we started finding out about shows that would jump the list. Instead of getting added, like you might imagine, and watched eventually, a show might get watched immediately, and maybe added to the list later, just for that sense of accomplishment. One of those shows that wasn’t consumed in an orderly fashion? Bodyguard, on Netflix. This is not “The Bodyguard” – the early 90s movie with Whitney Huston and Kevin Costner. This is a 2018 series, a BBC series distributed by Netflix in the United States. And it has a lot going for it, not to mention the fact that it was just nominated for two Golden Globes yesterday.
It’s a 6-episode show (fairly standard for British television) that focuses on Police Sergeant David Budd, who works in the division of the Metropolitain Police that serves as personal protection for important, high-ranking people in the government. Budd was previously a soldier, and suffers from PTSD, which has affected his marriage and he is separated from his wife, though still actively involved with his children’s lives. He lives in a sad one bedroom flat, and that’s where our story begins. Budd does something fairly heroic, and gets called upon to serve as the PPO (personal protection officer) for Home Secretary Julia Montague. This is really important – think if the U.S. Attorney General also took on the role of Homeland Security. It is one of the “four great offices of state” in the UK, the others being the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Foreign Secretary. So being assigned to watch the Secretary is a BFD.
And this Home Secretary Julia Montague is an interesting one – a woman in her late 40s, not unattractive, but hard-lined. She has specific goals for Britain and protecting it from terrorism, and is implementing policies that aren’t particularly popular. She is controversial, and because she’s young and impulsive, Julia has a tendency to want to disobey her young protector. It’s an interesting relationship to watch develop, and it’s nice to see a woman in the traditional role of “not-quite-likable” anti-hero. But because this is a really good show, the best part is that once you feel like you understand what’s going on, things get completely changed midway through the series. The tone changes, the plot changes, the way you think about the characters changes. You’re never quite sure who to trust, and what the truth is. And that’s what makes it a great show.
Also great? The performances. I’ve been a low-key fan of Keeley Hawes (who plays Secretary Montague) for a while, and she is formidable here. But the stand-out of this show is it’s star, Richard Madden. You probably know Madden as Robb Stark from the early seasons of Game of Thrones. Or perhaps you enjoyed watching him as Prince Charming in the recent Cinderella remake. Here we get to enjoy his natural Scottish accent, which can be occasionally (delightfully) difficult to discern, but he is just sooooo good. You spend the entire series wondering if you can trust this main character who you’ve invested so much emotion into. And it doesn’t hurt that Madden has a very expressive face, and uses the full range, from squinty eyed personal protection officer, to wide-eyed shock and terror at various reveals.
This show. It is SO good. And because it’s only six episodes, it’s the kind of show you can squeeze in watching between others. Or potentially binge on the weekend, and be able to do it all without feeling terrible. But it’s also the kind of show where if you watched one episode per night, you can finish it in a week, and really feel the intensity and pressure mount, and spend the rest of your evenings discussing with your viewing partner – did that really just happen?
Details: Bodyguard, on Netflix.