As good as TV gets…
People watch TV for roughly three different reasons. The first one is to mindlessly pass the time. Quiz shows, soaps etc fall into this category. The second one is pure entertainment. Here you will find condescendingly derided shows like Love Island rubbing shoulders with supposed high art such as Game of Thrones. It’s all the same stuff really, beautiful people doing outlandish things. The final reason is the one I am interested in however. Connection….
To love something, and I mean really love something, you must connect with it on some kind of emotional level. People fell hard for The Detectorists because they saw themselves in the warm relationships and eccentric characters. Critics raved about Horace and Pete because it’s hyper realism struck a chord with the disaffected and the left behind. And when people look back on Flowers, it is that same relationship, that enigmatic connection that people will remember.
The Flowers family are a damaged but loving family unit consisting of depressed patriarch Maurice (Julian Barratt), his displaced wife Deborah (Olivia Colman) and their two unsettled 25-year-old twin children Amy (Sophia Di Martino) and Donald (Daniel Rigby). Also on the scene is Maurice’s Japanese illustrator Shun, played by show creator Will Sharpe.
Everyone reading this will have first-hand experience with depression. Whether that be having suffered with it themselves or by knowing somebody that has. 18 months ago, a very close friend of mine tragically took his own life out of the blue (it’s always out of the blue of course). I loved him and I miss him and I think about him every day. Nothing that anybody has ever said has made me feel better about this or helped me understand why he would make such a drastic choice. I never expected a zany and psychedelic TV show to be the outlet that I needed but the penultimate episode of the second series of Flowers did just that.
Before I return to the words that so changed my perception, a word on depression. Is it a disease? Is it due to toxic masculinity? Why do so many people suffer with it in the modern world? The truth is all of this is irrelevant. Each person’s depression is their own cross to bear. In artistic terms it could be portrayed as the Babadook or as the impending arrival of the end of the world, it doesn’t matter. Because depression is a shape-shifter and it can be many things to many people. For those, like me, who are lucky enough to have never suffered from depression, all we can do is be watchful of those around us and try to be kind enough to keep the black clouds at bay for those we love and who love us.
I have veered off topic, but when writing about a show that strays from its main story arc with alarming irregularity, I think that I can probably be indulged on this occasion. Flowers isn’t black comedy or a dramedy or any other easily labelled genre. It doesn’t make sense, it is infuriating and funny in equal measures and it manages to make you smile at the most unexpected moments. Put simply it is a TV show about life.
I’m aware that I haven’t mentioned much about the actual content of Flowers in this so called review but I ask you to find it for yourself and love it as I have and for those of us that have lost someone to the dark, shadowy hands that grab and pull you down, I leave you with these words, in the hope that they comfort you as they comforted me:
‘He died of an illness and she loved him and what else could she have done? He would’ve appreciated it. And for those few times when he tried, and that one time when he died, there were probably thousands of times when he thought about her and saw her face and thought about how much she meant to him and how much he had put her through already and it would have stopped him… some people get sick… some people kill themselves.’