I binge-watched this six-part series over the past two evenings. I was in that ‘just one more episode’ mode that I have not been in since I watched the Chernobyl series.
I have to admit I had planned on watching for only a short while, just to see what Kenneth Branagh looked like as Boris Johnson. By then I was hooked.
I have mixed feelings about Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of Johnson, mainly because of the bad wig and weird prosthetics. But he did a good job.
What really had me transfixed, though, was the depiction of the covid-19 pandemic as it unfolded, from the first Wuhan case until July this year. It was the first – but probably won’t be the last – series I have seen about the progression of the pandemic.
Some people have said it was too soon to release a series of this kind. And for some, it may be. I would probably recommend that people grieving the loss of a loved one from covid, or with PTSD from working in the front-line, to be aware that this may be traumatic to watch so soon afterwards. For me though, watching the series felt like a way of processing all the upheaval, stress, worry and trauma that we all experienced at the height of the pandemic and probably didn’t even realise it.
You can see how bad things were at the top of the curve, and realise that all governments made mistakes of one kind of another. Sweden and the UK both had huge problems with the elderly population dying in great numbers in care homes. Both countries took action later than they should have. The care home staff (usually underpaid) were left to fend for themselves. To be fair, nothing like this had happened for 100 years.
What I liked was the depiction of different situations in the film – care homes, hospitals, different family constellations. They did not dramatise anything. There was just quiet bravery, respect for those in the front line, and a humane and respectful depiction of the long-lived elderly and their right to dignity and good care in their twilight years.