TV Review: Bodyguard (2018) – King Of The North Is A British Spy
Netflix’s original miniseries Bodyguard is an intriguing drama, in collaboration with BBC, starring Richard Madden. The series is highly innovative and does a lot of things that most Hollywood series in the same genre just seem to fail to depict.
Bodyguard is about a soldier with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, who is assigned to protect a Minister in the UK government, and how that posting complicates his life and throws him down a rabbit hole of conspiracy, intrigue and a worsening of his own demons. The show starts off with a bomb threat on a moving train that Police Sergeant David Budd (Richard Madden) comes across and needs to deal with. It’s the greatest hook that completely commits you to the rest of the show.
At first, it took me a while to get over the fact that the only other thing that I’ve seen Richard Madden in was Game Of Thrones. And not just that, but his exit from the series was in a brutal and traumatizing way during the Red Wedding episode. (Click the link at your own peril, while I wipe my tears.)
So for the majority of Bodyguard, I kept thinking of him as Rob Stark, the original King of the North, attributing his PTSD to events of the Red Wedding. But it’s a credit to Madden’s performance in Bodyguard that he completely negated that perception of himself by the third episode. It’s a strong and effective performance by the actor that makes me want to see him in a lot more things.
Back to Bodyguard! It’s a short series with only 6 episodes that pack all the drama, intrigue and suspense very tightly into this shortened season. The story is just as effective, without ever resorting to tried and tested tropes that shows of this subject matter usually fall into.
The story sees Budd assigned to protect the Home Minister Julie Montague, (Keeley Hawes) who is a lot more complicated than she initially seems. Thought of as being a high ranking official who may even make a run for the Prime Minister’s office, Budd finds that there is a lot to deal with when having to protect the minister. On top of his professional issues, Budd is also trying to deal with the separation from his wife, caused by his severe PTSD that he refuses to get help for. It’s a lot to take in by the first episode of the show, but it’s quite effective in setting up the challenges for the character in the long run.
The series is also one of the first British TV series that I personally have ever seen. So there was quite a lot that surprised me about the way the show was made. The first thing that jumps out at me was the diverse characters that represented a wide range of minorities. And despite being a show that has terrorism as one of the angles, the show doesn’t depict South Asians as only Terrorists.
They actually use that perception to even subvert a usual trope, and work it into a story angle. And despite some terrorist characters being South Asian, the show never seems to be prejudiced towards any other characters of that ethnicity. There are prominent South Asian characters playing police officers, government officials, etc… who are never shown as being suspected or mistreated for their ethnicity, despite the obvious connections of the other villainous characters. This representation of minority characters and even women in significant roles throughout the series is refreshing and stands out glaringly when compared to shows created in Hollywood.
The way Bodyguard is originally marketed, seems to put it very much into the realm of a romantic-drama, however, the show is anything but. This originally made me dismiss the show, thinking it would be another passionate romance story, set in a thriller backdrop, but it is a full out thriller that is quite captivating. The show works as a quick watch, that is extremely engaging and will keep you glued to the TV for 6 hours. (Give or take a few minutes.) While the show isn’t perfect, criticism which I can’t get into without spoiling the series, (find me on Twitter for that conversation) it’s a worthy inclusion into your list of things to watch. But if you’re expecting Madden to be carrying anyone in his arms while ‘I Will Always Love You’ plays in the background… prepare to be disappointed. As I found out. The hard way.