Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Do they mean us?

by Ben Soton

Us. Based on the book by David Nicholls. Four-part television comedy series, shown from 20th September at 9pm on BBC1; currently available on BBC iPlayer. Director: Geoffrey Sax. Producers: Roanna Benn, Greg Brenman and Tom Hollander. Starring: Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves.

For some time, I have pointed out that the BBC tends to create dramas about people whose lives are totally detached from the rest of the population. The latest Sunday night drama, Us, is no exception. Based on a book written by David Nicholls, the drama centres around the Petersens, a well-off London couple facing divorce and their teenage son. Douglas (played by Tom Hollander) is a scientist, and his wife Connie (played by Saskia Reeves) is an artist; their son Albie (played by Tom Taylor) is about to start university.
    I am not one who argues that to be working-class you must reside in a council flat and exist on a diet of pie and mash and drink brown ale. Assuming Douglas and Connie receive enumeration in the form of wages they are indeed working class. The lifestyle of the characters in this drama is still a considerable improvement on that of the rest of us, however.
    Many of us go through divorce. It is usually an unpleasant experience, especially regarding children and the division of money and property. In Us, the Petersens go on a holiday across Europe, which to me seems a rather enjoyable, even a holiday-of-a-lifetime, experience.
    Us could be best described as a coming of middle-age drama where Douglas, who insists on sticking to a tight itinerary, discovers that he is basically boring and lacks spontaneity. Meanwhile, generational differences are exposed when Douglas wants to view historic buildings and Albie, who is arguably too old to be holiday with his parents, wants to make friends with the opposite sex.
    The drama is interlaced with flashbacks to the 1990s, when the couple first met. This is when I decided that Douglas and Connie were never compatible in the first place; however, in one flashback to the 1990s Douglas’ character impressed me. At a dinner party the young scientist is confronted by a New Age hippie who states that he does not like all these chemicals, Douglas points out that the human body is simply a collection of organic matter. This is something we should be aware of when confronted by anti-rational arguments that oppose scientific logic in the fight against COVID-19.
    Another argument for watching Us is that in an era of travel bans and quarantines, many of us are unlikely to experience a foreign holiday for some time. Travel is an important part of the drama and the idea behind it is that you can discover yourself at any age.

No comments: