Review: “Normal People” Sally Rooney’s love story is a small-screen triumph

This BBC/Hulu adaptation of the hit novel about the on-again, off-again relationship between two Irish teenagers captures the beauty and brutality of first love perfectly

Inevitably, people will come to the television adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People in one of two ways: as avid fans of the book, which to a certain demographic and sensibility has become tantamount almost to a sacred text, or as detractors to whom the Irish wunderkind’s work reads as barely more than top flight YA and who have been mystified by the plaudits, awards and – in Normal People’s case – Man Booker longlisting it has garnered.

In the end it won’t matter. The rendering of the on-again-off-again relationship between sixth-form and then university students Marianne and Connell for the small screen, by Rooney herself with Alice Birch, is near-perfect from whichever direction you come at it. Continue reading

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The best TV series to binge-watch in lockdown

As many of us face quarantine, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong picks the world’s most diverting shows, including a Japanese romcom and a drama from Brazil.


By Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

A third of the world’s population is now living in lockdown with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, searching for hope and ways to connect – but also just something to do besides follow the news. When watching TV to fill our time, we can also build our empathy with other countries going through the same thing: closed borders don’t apply to culture. Here are 11 shows to watch in quarantine that will uplift or distract you, while also opening your mind and heart to other cultures.

(Credit: Netflix)

Call My Agent! – France

A group of Paris talent agents scramble to keep their business alive after the unexpected death of their firm’s founder, while also competing with and betraying each other, in this three-season dramedy that premiered in 2015. There are fun machinations, office politics, and inside-showbusiness references (a plotline in the pilot hinges on a Quentin Tarantino movie). Call My Agent! is frothy while still being engaging, with plenty of beautiful shots of Paris. Available on Netflix. Continue reading

The Accident review – echoes of Grenfell in devastating disaster drama

Sarah Lancashire stars in Jack Thorne’s sweeping, harrowing look at how the aftershock of a disaster ripples out into people’s lives

Apart from the explosion, The Accident (Channel 4) is very quiet. Hairdresser Polly (Sarah Lancashire) doesn’t even shout when she finds her 15-year-old daughter Leona’s latest one-night stand still in her bedroom. She just flings his clothes at him, notes that Leona (Jade Croot) is underage and that he looks 28, and makes him jump out of the window. Then she takes herself off to the local charity run with her friends. They are walking, Polly’s best friend, Angela (Joanna Scanlan), says firmly.

So begins the new four-part drama by Jack Thorne, the unassailable powerhouse behind the likes of This is England, Skins, Kiri (in which Lancashire also starred) and the forthcoming adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials. […] Continue reading