on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2019 22 Okt

Years and Years (HBO)

von: Brian Whistler Filed under: Blog | TB | 2 Comments


Years and Years is the kind of show that I had hoped Black Mirror would be but never could deliver because much as I tried to like it, BM comes across to this viewer as The Twilight Zone without heart. The creator of Black Mirror seems to revel in torturing his protagonists with the futuristic technologies he conceives. There are rarely happy endings in the dystopian worlds he creates. After a while, I just couldn’t hang with it.

Not so with the new HBO miniseries Years and Years. While dealing with big ideas and imagined (but entirely plausible) new technologies, Years and Years retains its humanity. And in contrast with Black Mirror’s obsession with tech gone awry, Years and Years has far bigger fish to fry.

It’s hard to write about the series without giving away any spoilers. Suffice it to say Years starts out in the year 2024 and spans nearly a decade. The world is in a shambles of course. With climate change getting worse and economic meltdowns on the horizon in the UK, Emma Thompson, cast against type, plays the rising new political star, a monster just as clueless and dangerous as Trump. Thompson seems to relish the role (she produced the series,) and her character stokes the dark corners of the collective British psyche much as the Orange One has done in the US.

It’s a sprawling story: Besides functioning as a caveat for the perils of technology and its negative effects on privacy, health and it’s potential for inflicting massive human abuses with the kind of efficiency the Nazis could never have dreamed of, it’s main focus is on climate change migration and the logical conclusions of the current virus of nationalism and xenophobia which seems to be infecting the globe. In short, it takes what’s happening today and extrapolates where we might end up if humankind keeps going on its current trajectory.

The writing is smart in that the series gets its larger ideas across by keeping its focus on just one family. Thus through the lens of individual struggles and conflicts, the show succeeds in humanizing the larger issues by illustrating how they affect real people we grow to care about deeply.

Years and Years can be looked upon as both an allegory for what’s happening today and as a warning of the real possibility of a much darker future if we humans don’t start to become active as individuals (and collectively) and do our part to prevent looming catastrophe. Rather than merely preach, the show’s creators chose instead to involve the viewer on an emotional level, delivering their messages through the actions of the characters. There is one powerful summarizing monologue delivered by an unlikely character towards the end, but when it comes, delivered with a walloping performance by Muriel Deacon, the show has more than earned it.

There’s wry humor here, high drama and devastating tragedy, but behind it all lies a higher, transcendent purpose. To say more would be giving away too much. Highly recommended.

This entry was posted on Dienstag, 22. Oktober 2019 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Jochen:

    Thanks for recommending, Brian. Very interesting.

    Some time ago I tried to watch Black Mirror and failed.

  2. Anonymous:

    Years and Years will take some months or years to arrive here. But it‘s noted.

    And fine to see three series presented in a row, one by one.

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