Hold on to your hats because Netflix has just made available the best BBC series of the year so far, named "Happy Valley." It's a terrific six part mini-series about a forty-something year old Yorkshire police sergeant named Catherine Cawood, (played by the incredible Sarah Lancashire) who not only has to deal with a personal tragedy and a recovering drug addict sister, but also has to contend with a brutal band of thugs who are conspiring to commit a high-profile kidnapping. To say that Lancashire's performance is riveting throughout is an understatement; she will easily win the BAFTA for her portrayal. I will predict that America will fall in love with her as a major talent because I surely have.
I'm very fortunate because I get to see many of these BBC's productions before they hit the states. After I saw this one, I couldn't wait until it became available so I could let you know about it. I imagined it would make its way to PBS, but Netflix snapped it up.
There are some violent moments which are not for the faint of heart either, but what makes Happy Valley so extraordinary is that each episode builds upon itself to ramp up the stakes in all its plot-lines while never feeling forced or contrived.
You have to accept that this is Ms. Wainwright’s point — “Happy Valley,” in addition to being a smart and absorbing thriller, is a morality play, one in which the mystery is secondary (we know who did what all along). It’s about female struggle and survival, embodied by Catherine and other characters, including her recovering-addict sister (wonderfully played by Siobhan Finneran). That can make the going a little heavy toward the end, but Ms. Lancashire and the rest of the excellent cast will keep your attention.
So when Elaine Benes asks you if Happy Valley is bingeworthy, just make sure you're loaded with sponges.