‘Anatomy of a Scandal‘ is a British courtroom drama miniseries developed by David E. Kelley and Melissa James Gibson. It is directed by S. J. Clarkson and based on a 2018 novel by UK author Sarah Vaughan. The show was released onto Netlfix and ran for six episodes.
British Tory MP James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend) confesses to his wife Sophie (Sienna Miller) that he had an affair with a staffer named Olivia Lytton (Naomi Scott). To get ahead of the scandal, Tory communications chief Chris Clarke (Joshua McGuire) advises him to confess and work on his message. Following this advice, Whitehouse delivers a press conference where he admits to the affair. Prime Minister Tom Southern (Geoffrey Streatfeild) at first sticks by him. However, Olivia accuses James of sexual assault with the fierce prosecutor Kate Woodcroft (Michelle Dockery) taking the case. As the resulting scandal mounts, James declares his innocence, but even his own defense counsel Angela Regan (Josette Simon) beings to wain.
I have not read the novel, so I cannot compare it to the show. As such I will be reviewing it simply as a miniseries.
What could have been a good take on corruption from power instantly becomes a “picks and chooses” which corruption they are okay with. More on that later.
First of all, the acting is terrible. The exception is Michelle Dockery, who actually turns out a decent performance. Otherwise, the cast overacts as if they are in some sort of daytime soap opera. The dialogue is fine, I suppose, but at times I laughed when I was not supposed to because the celebrities delivered the lines so terribly.
As mentioned before, the show also tries to pick and choose which person is more corrupt. As Whitehouse is claiming innocence, we see that he is lying at times. However, the prosecutor is just as guilty. She is having an affair with a married man, she does unethical things for her side, and she is a proven liar by the end of the show. However, she is “justified” because a horrible crime was committed against her when she was a university student. I am not saying she could not have some darkness in her past, but she becomes an antagonist in the show where she should have been the hero.
Essentially, the show puts forward that all of these government officials are corrupt, but some are more so than others, so the “less corrupt” get off scot-free. It was a contradiction and a glaring one that totally destroys the meaning of the miniseries. It is a shame because it could have been a good set-up for taking on corruption, but it gives you a nihilistic ending wrapped up in an entertainment industry fake version of justice.
Check out the trailer below:
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Sex and nudity, Strong foul language, Violence
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