Thanks a LOT, hon, for sending me off into a two-season binge of one of the darker, grittier BBC series I’ve seen in a while.
Pride and Prejudice it ain’t. Happy Valley is the sort of series that gets into your head, with a main character whose life can only be described as C. O. M. P. L. I. C. A. T. E. D.
Catherine Cawood is a police sergeant in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, an area where the countryside is beautiful and the drug dealers are making life miserable. I can’t recommend this series to anyone who finds violence in film and TV disturbing. Indeed, I had to turn off the sound and look away any number of times. I despise that stuff—you can’t say the F word on TV but you can show unspeakable stuff being done to innocent people?
I would have stopped watching except for the amazing performance of Sarah Lancashire, who portrays Sergeant Cawood. What a job Lancashire does with this all-too-human police officer who is a total badass hero. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re looking for a TV series that celebrates a woman in middle age absolutely BRINGING IT, well, here you go. Lancashire is fearless in this role. Let’s just say, Catherine Cawood pretty much embodies Juliet Bernard’s hashtag #WeAreNotInvisible.
Pro tip: turn on closed captioning! The Yorkshire accents are fantastic and also hard to catch sometimes. I’m sure, in West Yorkshire, they’re saying, “Yeah, Nashville is great—just be sure to turn on the closed captioning. The Southern accents are kind of impossible.”
The two seasons are available on Netflix.