TV: In Hindsight, Emmy-Nominated BBC Series, "Bodyguard" Was Average at Best
Updated: Jul 24, 2019
I started the series Bodyguard on Netflix this past Sunday simply because I needed a new show to binge watch. I was looking for something that wasn't going to consume too much of my time and this six-episode series, set at one hour a piece, definitely fulfilled that requirement. I was able to finish the show within the span of two days. Little did I know that Bodyguard would make the 2019 Emmy Awards nomination list within the same week. Talk about perfect timing.
This is the first time in nearly 50 years that a BBC series has received an Emmy nomination for Best Drama Series. Although this is a great feat, I am not too sure I stand by it. I also find it a bit odd that Bodyguard received an Emmy nomination but Richard Madden who portrays the main character, David Budd, did not. One may argue that Richard Madden's acting alone, carried the majority of this show. I would like to say that I respect the artistic decisions that Jed Mercurio made as the show's writer and creator. However, my respect towards him doesn't change the fact that there were several questions left unanswered. To be frank, I found the season's finale to simply be unredeemable.
The show starts out very strong. We meet David Budd, a war veteran of the British Army, who goes on to join the Royal and Specialist Protection Command of the London Metropolitan Police Force. Within the first 20-25 minutes, the audience is already at the edge of their seats anxious to know how everything will play out. Jed Mercurio does a great job of building tension within each episode and it truly keeps the audience on alert. In fact, at the very end of the series, you'll probably still be left guessing.
***The rest of review entails a few spoilers so if you haven't watched the series or if you're usually bothered by spoilers it might be best to stop right here and return after viewing the series.***
Within the first few scenes of this series, the audience learned 3 things:
1. Nobody in the show was to be trusted. The characters within this story did not trust themselves and while many pretended to trust, others were not afraid to exhibit their distrust in one another. It was also quickly revealed that every character had a personal agenda. As an audience member, there were a few instances where David Budd's (the main character) agenda was questionable as well. Therefore, we (the audience) learned to trust no one.
2. Trigger happy police were very well prepared to shoot suicide bombers as a way to diffuse the situation at hand. It was evident that the police officers within this series had no intentions to preserve a suicide bomber's life or manually diffuse bombs. **I'm not an expert on bombs and what to do in such situations but shooting an individual wearing a bomb seemed a bit absurd and unrealistic to me.**
3. The show was cinematically captivating. Each shot was well thought out, everything from the framing to the color grading was remarkable. The show really smashed the highly intense scenes and gave the audience the opportunity to not only see but to feel all the emotion within such scenes.
For a show that was so visually captivating, it was disappointing that the writing missed the mark. There were quite a few aspects of the writing and the plot that frustrated me but to keep things short I will discuss the major two.
I. Budd's character development:
Budd's character desperately needed more depth. An expansion into his past, military experience, beliefs/morals, and family life would have given the audience a better sense of David Budd's identity. I mentioned earlier that there were instances where Budd's agenda was questionable. This is because there was no real sense of familiarity between the audience and Budd. We (the audience) were only given the opportunity to scratch the surface when it came to understanding Budd's identity. Therefore, the level of trust and loyalty between the show's protagonist and the audience was simply nonexistent.
Clarification on Budd's nationality would have been great as well. It was evident that Richard Madden used his authentic Scottish accent in the show. This may have been the actor's or the director's choice but it left room for curiosity. Was David Budd intended to be a true-born Scot that happened to reside in England? What was Budd's background/childhood like? The audience learned that Budd suffers from PTSD due to his time in Afghanistan. However, it would have be delightful to learn and witness more of what he experienced at war and how that specific chain of events affected his life and relationships upon his return.
II. Balance of plot and subplots:
The show took on a lot at once. Mental health issues, suicide, PTSD, politics, national security/terrorism and much more were prevalent themes within the storyline. However, Jed Mercurio struggled to flush out these themes and to bring them full circle. This is most evident to the audience when it is revealed that Nadia, the "victim" suicide bomber from the first episode, was actually the true perpetrator all along. For the entire season, we watched Nadia play the victim card so convincingly. However, it wasn't the shift in the story's direction that was bothersome but the lack of basis behind such a choice. A choice that once again left a lot of room for curiosity. Nadia's actions and motivations were never explained. The audience was never given the opportunity to learn about her background or past. In fact, they were only able to witness a major change in Nadia's behavior when she suddenly became eager to confess and give up information contrary to her previous pattern of hesitance. It was ultimately a jarring revelation that left the audience in a total state of confusion. A revelation that forced us to utter the dreaded question, "How did we get to this point?"
Overall, Bodyguard was highly anticipating so many failed to realize how much the script lacked until the end. Truthfully, it wasn't too hard to get past the flaws in the moment but in hindsight, you realize that the show was average at best.
There has been talk about a second season and considering the way season one ended, I personally do not think it is needed. The finale wasn't tangible but it also didn't wrap on a cliffhanger or in a place that would require the series to continue.
I am not one to discourage people from watching a show or film simply because I think everyone should form their own opinion. So if you read this review before watching, I strongly urge you to give the show a shot. If you had the opportunity to watch, feel free to tell discuss your thoughts with me in the comments section down below! I would love to hear them. Thanks for reading!