I love it when TV surprises you. Genuinely that is.
While there is plenty of good quality drama out there, mainly from the US, it’s rare that something so subverts the medium of telly that you really can’t tell what it might throw at you next.
After recently finishing series 1 of British home-grown drama Hit and Miss, I can genuinely say this one kept catching me off-guard. The premise has received plenty of press, with transsexual hit wo(man) Mia (played without any sense of easy understanding by a wonderfully elusive Chloe Sevigny) coldly despatching John Doe’s throughout each episode, under the direction of her client, Eddie. We know little of Eddie other than he hangs out in bars and clubs up north, issuing death warrants to Mia with cold instruction. Eddie and Mia’s interdependence underpins the series. There is little evidence of mutual friendship, just raw need, which means they look out for one another without giving a damn.
But more central to the plot is that of Mia’s relationship to a motley crew of children living in a rundown farmhouse on a desolate moor. Early in the series, Mia learns that a former girlfriend, from her previous existence as a man, has recently died, handing custody of one of his own children, as well as three more (two teenage), to her. Yep – confusing, and complicated.
Somewhere, in her pre-op existence as a cold blooded killer, Mia must find the time to be a surrogate parent (mother or father?!) to the four children, dealing with some pretty meaty issues (try rape and murder) in the meantime, looking to find acceptance on every level of personal and social existence. Each episode follows the complex relationships that Mia forms with those who directly affect her life, fighting to gain the respect of her adopted family, while protecting them the only way she knows, with ruthless detachment. Sounds tricky? Well it is. It’s difficult to like many characters in Paul Abbot’s drama, and this is where it works. Apart from the kids, who are depicted as uncertain, angry, defensive, angelic and in serious trouble, there is little else to route for. Every time Mia allows you in, she despatches someone without a second thought, showing no repentance, after all, it’s just a job, paying to keep a roof over her news brood’s heads.
Plot strands link the episodes together, not dragging on. Six episodes felt right, but as with all good dramas, it leaves you wanting a second series to see how things work out.
Beautifully shot, with the cold moors as backdrop, this is un-mistakenly British drama that challenges. No heroes, no easy answers, just some uncompromising situations in which characters are trying to get by. Surviving Mia’s cold killer is beyond many, but it’s the mere survival of everyday that challenges each and every character in this series. I really do hope there’s more to come.
Not easy, or simple viewing. But then the best TV shouldn’t be, should it?