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Uneasy Street

The housewives on Wisteria Lane are allegedly desperate. They’ve got nothing on the denizens of The Street.


The pilot episode began with a none-too-bubbly Jane Horrocks banging her neighbor once the hubby and kids had gotten off to work and school. A few days later, neighbor guy accidentally runs over the daughter, sending her into a coma. The laughs do not ensue. There’s guilt, anger, sadness and true desperation.

I had a friend in college who, when we were talking about the humor in Beckett, said, "you have to laugh or you'd just cut out your stomach with jagged glass."

This is that kind of television. I loved it.

I didn’t understand was why they had so many amazing, well-known British actors with just bit parts (Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall, etc.). Surely they were not all cast just to support Miss Horrocks, who was elegant in her rage.

Indeed not, I learned in last night’s 2nd episode. Jim Broadbent is the soon-to-be pensioner whose testimony last week did not help the case against Horrock’s crash test honey. This week’s show centered around him, and how he’s being forced into retirement as he approaches his 65th birthday.

It was heartbreaking to see him beg to stay at work, even volunteering because he had nowhere else to go. “Go home or I’ll call security,” his boss told him.

At least he has his pension. After 40 years of a work and modest living with his wife, they have that to pay the bills. All £37 a week of it. UK law says that the majority of your pension has to be paid out via an annuity, so the only way to get the whole pot o’ gold is to die before you hit 65.

And so he tries to kill himself. While the action bordered on a cutesy retelling of Babe in “Crimes of the Heart”, the tone of the piece, and subsequent results of his unsuccessful are infinitely darker.

Seems the missus would rather have alive in the looney bin than be a widow with a lump sum payout. The look on his face as he'd realized he'd been sectioned is Emmy material.

I laughed, I got a little choked up, and my stomach ached for the pains of these people. Even more heartbreaking to see him being driven off after being told he’d been sectioned.

The acting is amazing. The writing is stunning. The stories are woven together in time, so the series will be a web of 6 families’ interactions. Six short stories, each worthy of their own film, turned into one wrenching novel of a series.

I can't wait to see what twisted darkness is behind the next neighbor's door.