It’s been a minute since I have done of these but I couldn’t let you guys not know about the goodness of Happy Valley.
Happy Valley is a British crime drama series set in West Yorkshire and tells the story of police officer, Catherine Cawood (pleayed by the fantastic Sarah Lancashire). She is recently divorced and living with her sister, Clare (Siobhan Finneran, who you might recognize as Mrs. O’Brien on Downton Abbey). Clare happens to be a recovering alcoholic but a great help to Catherine as she is the only family member who accepts and helps Catherine raise her grandson, Ryan.
Ryan is Catherine’s daughter, Becky’s child
Becky commited suicide 8 years ago, not long after Ryan was born
Ryan was a product of rape by Tommy
All of Clare’s immediate family want nothing to do with Ryan
I felt like I had to break that down, so back to the premise. Catherine already has a stressful job and sometimes carries her job home. A bit of a hard nose, she is pretty good at her job and has a heart of gold. All this helps to mask the pain and struggle she feels from the loss of her daughter and raising her grandson. Dealing with all of this, she finds out that Tommy (the guy who raped her daughter) is being released from prison and that kicks of Series (or season as Americans say) 1 of Happy Valley.
When my friend first recommended this show to me, I resisted it strongly. I am not a fan of crime shows and I like to think that I don’t care for British shows (except going through my memory bank, I seem to have watched a few of them, so I don’t know if I can continue making this claim)
First of all, it’s quite ironic that this show is called Happy Valley because there’s not a lot of happiness going on in this Valley. You may think that I gave away too much info in describing the premise but trust me it doesn’t even touch the surface of the whole season which is part of the beauty of this show. How they manage to weave in so many story lines without making it convoluted or making your head spin in just 6 episodes.
There are many characters and different story lines and somehow they are able to make everyone connected to each other in some way or the other. It probably helps that the leading lady is such a great actor and conveys Catherine’s weariness and strength so effortlessly. Not to discount the supporting cast because to be honest, there isn’t a weak link. Everyone does what they are supposed to do well. And that’s another thing, the supporting cast have actual roles and aren’t used as filler with no direction (Think Vee in Shameless)
There has to be a word for when the second season of a show, that did so well in its first, keeps up its goodness. After that word is found, a word for the feeling as a viewer should be invented. I was so nervous that season 2 wouldn’t live up to 1 but it really did. I will say that the wrap up for this season was less plausible than its predecessor but it wasn’t anything so terrible to knock it.
Some complaints viewers might have might be the accents, which is different from the usual “Brit” accents Americans are used to, so it might be a little difficult to understand what they are saying. It wasn’t really an issue for me but you can always use your closed caption to catch bits you missed. I happily and strongly urge you to watch this show. If you are a fan of Brit shows, you will see a lot of familiar faces in the two seasons.
Happy Valley is originally aired by BBC but is available for streaming via Netflix. There are two seasons that consist of just 6 episodes in each. It’s so enjoyable you should be able to knock it out quickly. If you do watch, let me know what you think.
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