With the second series making its debut, the first season of the British historical drama Peaky Blinders is something you should definitely consider getting into if you’ve found yourself lacking in quality television dramas as of late. Based on the real-life gang known as the Peaky Blinders, this suave, sexy and sophisticated show is set in Birmingham, England, in 1919, and follows the Shelby family – a gangster family who specialise in horse race betting and being all round bad-asses. Run by the infamously cold-hearted Tommy (Cillian Murphy), the Peaky Blinders have been heavily involved in Birmingham’s crime scene, however when a shipment of machine guns goes missing and the Blinders are suspected, Winston Churchill himself sends Chief Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) after the gang to recover the guns.
Concerned the Blinders will sell the guns to the IRA, Campbell will stop at nothing to bring down the corrupt gang, enlisting the help of the beautiful, soft-spoken Grace (Annabelle Wallis), who goes undercover as a barmaid in attempt to gain the trust of Tommy and his brothers. But of course, Grace is taken by the mysterious and brooding Tommy, who is slowly showing more and more of himself as their relationship grows. Grace then begins to question where her true loyalties lie, but in this game of deceit and crime is there anyone she can trust?
While it took me until episode three to really get into the show, Peaky Blinders has got so much going for it. From the opening scene you already know this is going to be a very aesthetically alluring show; seductive cinematography combined with stunning early 20th century fashion and an attractive cast of actors makes for a drama that is totally engaging and hard to ignore. Overlay this with an awesome soundtrack featuring the likes of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds and The White Stripes and you have yourself an undoubtedly ‘cool’ show. And that’s exactly what Peaky Blinders does: it oozes this effortlessly chic, charming, coolness reminiscent of that incredibly popular guy in your grade that everyone had a crush on. It is the George Clooney of television shows.
What’s even better about the show is that, while the plot may seem sort of cliche and predictable, there are plenty of twists and subplots along the way that keep you gasping aloud or hanging off the edge of your seat. There’s violence, sex, love and betrayal, with plenty of gun fights if you’re that way inclined. In a way it reminded me of a more elegant version of Sons of Anarchy, where instead of middle aged men riding motorbikes, youthful British boys ride around on horses and in turn-of-the-century automobiles.
But in all seriousness, Peaky Blinders is a very well made show and can stand up amongst shows such as Mad Men and Sons of Anarchy in this Golden Age of television we seem to be experiencing. The screenplay is wonderfully crafted by the show’s creator Steven Knight, and delivered by a cast of extremely talented actors including Cillian Murphy (Inception, The Dark Knight), Helen McCrory (Harry Potter series) and Annabelle Wallis (from the new horror flick Annabelle), just to name a few. They create characters to are deep and flawed, with pasts that – while a mystery to the audience – have clearly shaped who they are and continue to affect them. Every episode we tease out a little more about each character so we are able to form a connection with them, making us care about what happens to them and become even more involved in what is playing out on-screen.
All in all, there isn’t much to complain about here, except for the dramatic cliff-hanger at the end of the season that had me staring in horror at my television screen. But even that was good!