With all the fanfare about Daredevil’s admittedly awesome second season, I’ve only just now finished up the equally fantastic second season of Happy Valley. There’s a lot to love here. The 6 hour-long episodes are quick, but not rushed. The plot is complex without being convoluted. Even the minor characters are well developed and fully realized. The relationship between sisters Catherine and Clare is one of the best I’ve seen on any show, and most importantly Sarah Lancashire as Catherine is a fucking powerhouse. And in the spirit of our ongoing 52 Films by Women posts, I’d like to point out the series is created, written and mostly directed by women.
Hell yes, Sally Wainwright.
And while I could easily write a four thousand word or so treatise on how Sergeant Catherine Cawood is one of the all time best characters, I’m trying to avoid spoilers in the hopes that more of you might watch the show. So I can’t tell you all of the ways that our Catherine kicks all of the asses. Instead, I’d like to discuss the flip side of that coin. How Happy Valley has managed to absolutely demolish a select group of British actors.
Now to be clear, I don’t mean that the show ruins every male character. This isn’t some MRA’s wet dream of a show where the bitchy woman in charge writes nothing but horrible characters for men. All of the characters on the show are mostly good with some important flaws. What I mean is that Happy Valley’s done a great job of making its audience say, “Oh hey! It’s that guy! Hi, That Guy … oh. This doesn’t feel good.” Take for instance:
James Norton plays Tommy Lee Royce, and while trying to avoid spoilers from the first season, Royce is not a good guy. But Norton himself seems perfectly affable. Look, he plays a vicar on Grantchester.
One who occasionally needs to take his shirt off.
Since we already know that Royce is a bad guy and Norton’s esteem hasn’t suffered because of it, surely season two wouldn’t be able to make him that much worse, right?
Try not to look directly into his eyes while he’s trying to eat your soul.
Or while he’s rampaging. Sorry, Norton, I’m so super creeped out by everything you do now.
Poor, Moseley. I mean, sure this actor has a real name, but this guy will always be Moseley. And more importantly, this version of Moseley:
There goes my soul. Even if Moseley is a vaguely annoying sad sack, you want him to do well. I wanted him to become footman or valet or whatever position it was that he wanted. So when he turned up on Happy Valley, I wanted the best for him. And look! He’s got a real job that he seems to like.
And a wife.
A wife, some kids, a job, a house.
And a mistress.
Sure, yeah, a mistress who he’s been cheating on his wife with for two years.
I’m going to let Carson handle this.
Neville Longbottom Matthew Lewis seemed destined to follow in Moseley’s footsteps. A sad sack who’d always be this close to getting something right only to have it all come crashing down in his face. But it turns out the real world is as magical as Harry Potter’s because Matthew Lewis turned into this.
How did this happen? Rowling writes a character that goes from incompetent loser to charismatic leader, and in real life the actor goes from this
Surely given how self-effacing Lewis has been in interviews, there’s no way a single character could make us second guess ourselv …
Wash it! Just hose that whole thing down. WHAT THE SHIT, NEVILLE? Who told you you could grow that facial hair? You’ve sent me on a real roller coaster today, kid. Feeling sorry for young you, feeling weird about older you, concerned that present you might have contracted Hepatitis while trying to get into this character. And I haven’t even thought about the underpants picture yet.
Yep, there it is. Ok, British Dudes. I’m done.