‘Peaky Blinders’: Netflix’s latest binge-worthy series
Written by Kristofer Seppala, contributor
Image from BBC.
Netflix’s new show supports the popular theory that if it’s British, it must be amazing. Recently acquired from BBC by the Weinstein Company for U.S. distribution as an original Netflix series, “Peaky Blinders” (say it out loud in a British voice, it’s fun) follows the life of a notorious crime family in 1919 Birmingham, England.
Thomas Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy, “Inception”) is the leader of the Shelby family known as the Peaky Blinders, named for the razors sewn into the front of their peaked caps. He is a World War I veteran suffering from PTSD and runs the Shelby family business of illegal bookmaking on horse races and other small-time criminal activities. The series is set into motion with the revelation that the Peaky Blinders accidentally stole a crate full of military rifles that the government is now after. Chief Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neil, “Jurassic Park”) is dispatched to investigate. Campbell sends in his own undercover operative Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis, “The Tudors”) as a local barmaid to get close to Thomas and report his movements. Everyone, including the government, British Communists and the Irish Republican Army wants to find out who has the stolen guns and where they’re located. Thomas sees this dilemma as a unique opportunity to bring his opponents down and move his family business up in the world.
Like most of today’s popular television characters, Thomas is an antihero, but there are a few elements to his character that set him apart. Even though he wants to achieve more power and is feared by the town, every decision he makes is for the benefit of his family. The crime family can be ruthless at a moment’s notice, yet it’s clear that love is what keeps them together rather than fear. There are moments throughout the show where Thomas’ character is unpredictable, whether it’s committing a violent act or revealing a moral compass. His character does not fit into the typical good-bad-guy mold. There’s a certain quality of depth to his character that has not been explored in a lot of television’s antiheroes.
Another unique aspect to this show is its soundtrack. Instead of featuring music to fit the time period of post-WWI England, the show has a modern, gritty, blues-rock soundtrack featuring artists like The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It complements the themes and certain key moments throughout the series.
One of the strongest elements of this show is the romance between Thomas and Grace, the undercover operative, as she finds herself torn between Thomas and her duty. While it is a popular plot device that we’ve all seen, their story is not very predictable, which is exciting. The actors Cillian Murphy and Annabelle Wallis have great chemistry.
The biggest downside to this show is that there are only six episodes. Season One is now streaming. Season Two is currently airing in the U.K. and will be streaming in the U.S. this November. Tom Hardy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) will be starring in the second season as a new antagonist. So if this review didn’t convince you the show is worth checking out, maybe the appearance of Tom Hardy will.