Back to Life (Showtime, Sundays at 10 p.m.) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019  

Back to Life

(Showtime, Sundays at 10 p.m.)

Nov 08, 2019 Web Exclusive
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The residents of the small town of Hythe don't believe in the concept of "paid her debt to society." This is what Miri Matteson (Daisy Haggard), the main protagonist in Back to Life finds out very quickly upon her release from an 18-year sentence in prison. Miri was imprisoned for killing her best friend Lara, who was the police chief's daughter, when she was 18. Now she's out, and back at her parents' home and trying to, as the title states, get back to life.

Except she is blocked from doing this at every turn. No one will hire her. Her awful boyfriend Dom is married with twins and having an affair with her mother. She refuses to speak to Mandy, her other best friend from high school, who swerved going to prison. Her parents are awkward around her while they try to protect her from the vandalism her presence incites, at the same time thinking they need to protect themselves by hiding their kitchen knives.

One of only two people who are nice to her is the next door neighbor Billy (Adeel Akhtar), most likely because he has no idea about her past. The other person is Nathan (Liam Williams), the proprietor of a hated new fish and chips shop that has taken over from a beloved pie shop. A believer in second chances, Nathan gives Miri a job. This act of kindness is rewarded with his already borderline boycotted shop being attacked.

In the six episodes of its first serieswhich originally aired on the BBC in April 2019Back to Life rides a fine line between sharply clever comedy and intensely dark mystery drama. Haggardwho is also co-creator and co-writeris a winning cross between Emma Thompson and Phoebe from Friends. A keen ear is necessary to catch all her slick comments, so many of which are razor-like in their humor. The funny factor spikes in every scene with her parole officer Janice (Jo Martin), who rivals Haggard with her natural comedic delivery and priceless lines.

As the series progresses, the shades of darkness become more pronounced while the humor dwindles away. In each episode the dynamics of Miri's relationships with the people closest to her are explored. Each has its own particular nuances, which are reflected in her reactions. These shift just enough to keep Miri increasingly interesting.

Even though Miri has a few breakthroughswith Mandy, with her parents, with Billythe town as a whole continues to be against her. They gather in a town meeting that is the polar opposite of one held at Stars Hollow, verbally lynching her. She takes over the meeting shouting defenses for herself that she hasn't had a chance to do since she came back. What unfolds at the end of meeting with Mandy is a cliffhanger that leaves you desperate for more episodes. (www.sho.com/back-to-life)

Author rating: 8/10

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