Scriptwriter Jack Thorne’s latest teen series Glue has been dubbed “Midsomer Murders without the old people”. But there’s more to it than that.
Thorne previously worked on hit shows such as the This is England ’86 and Skins, both following young people’s lives.
The first focused on the mod revival, while Skins follows a hedonistic group of students who basically all just take drugs and sleep together.
But Skins was unrealistic and vacuous, leaving the viewer depressed that their life isn’t as “rock ’n’ roll”.
At first glance, the new eight part drama Glue seems similar, based around a group of friends in the fictional village of Overton.
Thorne said he wanted the drama to show a countryside that’s “rotting through disrepair”.
Yet how realistic is this depiction of growing up in rural England? It makes rural life exciting.
It begins with the group jumping into a grain silo while high. In another scene Rob (Jordan Stephens) and Tina (Charlotte Spence) are submerged in the bath with bags over their heads, inhaling a powerful agricultural compound.
However, this dope-filled and pleasant land is abruptly brought to an end when James (Billy Howle) finds their 14 year old Romany friend Caleb dead under a tractor.
This is where the drama becomes interesting, and gets its teeth into some real issues.
The hedonistic set are forced to confront the loss of their friend and the multidimensional characters come to the fore.
The police look for Caleb’s older brother Eli to tell him the news, and one of the police officers, Ruth (Yasmin Paige), is half Romany.
The way this plays out is interesting but also problematic.
The Romany are—unsurprisingly—hostile to the police.
Ruth takes the lead as she can speak a Romany language, but she too gets a cold reception. “The Romany cop! I’ve heard of you”, says one of the Travellers.
The racism of the other officers is clear throughout. But Ruth is portrayed as someone just wanting to help regardless of her job.
Watching how this develops will be an interesting part of the drama—perhaps more so than the actual murder mystery itself.