“Bodyguard,” a gripping British series, bakes drama into intense action scenes and a scandalous romance, authentically portraying the realities of a taboo relationship. However, the viewer must endure the occasional cliche as many of the subplots seem to have predictable journeys.
The bingeable six-episode hit series was initially introduced to British television by BBC One in late August but has been available for streaming on Netflix since October. Since its release, Richard Madden has even won a Golden Globe for best performance by an actor in a drama television series for his role in “Bodyguard.”
The show was created and written by British television writer and producer Jed Mercurio. It stars Keeley Hawes as UK Home Secretary Julia Montague and Madden, most recognizable as Robb Stark in HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” who plays Sergeant David Budd, Julia’s bodyguard.
The viewer is immediately thrown into an action scene as the first episode kicks off. Budd is on a train with his two children when his instincts lead him to pursue a possible threat aboard the train. While he locates an attempted suicide bomber in the bathroom, his eagerness subsides when he notices a scared and kind face. David is duped into believing the bomber is weak because she is a woman. This scene is crucial to solving the motives behind the subsequent attacks in the series. This sequence gives the viewer a hint of the kind of action and suspense they can expect.
The show has received some criticism, though, especially by comedian Hasan Minhaj, for portraying the bomber as Muslim. While the bomber should not have necessarily been Muslim, the fact that she was a woman says something about the typical roles of women in shows and cinema. The plot twist of revealing this atypical role for a woman stuns the viewers and keeps them on their toes.
As the series progresses, the plot’s subject matter deepens as well. David’s post-traumatic stress disorder causes him to lash out — getting drunk almost every evening, seeking affection from his boss through an unprofessional sexual relationship and, eventually, having suicidal thoughts. His budding romance with the home secretary is a byproduct of his trauma and the lack of affection he receives at home. Indeed, their scandalous love affair is a bit cheesy, leaving the audience waiting for the inevitable — the end of the romance. Regardless, his PTSD and their resulting affair make for an all the more enthralling series.
We see another glimpse of the harsh realities of violence in just the second episode. When bullets fly into Julia’s car and her driver is killed by a sniper, the scene is set to look like a warzone as blood is splattered everywhere. More importantly, we see David and Julia make a genuine physical and emotional bond as they hold hands while multiple shots are fired at the car. Almost immediately after, when David rushes to the shooter’s position to take him out, the theme of PTSD comes back into play as the shooter is his war-veteran friend, who is clearly suffering from a severe case.
While this Netflix original might slip into a familiar and predictable tune common in television and cinema, the British drama series is still exceptionally well-crafted and beautifully weaves real world problems into the personas of each main character. No doubt the series will continue to be criticized, but viewers should not let the negative responses distract them from realizing that we finally have a compelling, real series that gets the job done in a succinct six episodes, leaving them wanting another season.
Rohit Mahtani is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. Netflix and No Chill appears in print every other Friday.