Last week, having watched a teensy bit of the BAFTAs, the part where they awarded the prize to the up and coming talent, hubby and I decided to watch Netflix’s Top Boy. It is just brilliant and I urge everyone who is able to to watch it. The dialogue is hard to tune into at first but you soon get accustomed to it, and the characters are all played brilliantly that you can just let them act out their story and you get the gist.
It’s been a while since I’ve watched a series that pricks my social conscience in the way that Top Boy does. We would pause it two or three times an episode to share a thought that occurred to us. The series touches upon the Windrush scandal; lack of opportunities for black youths – both in terms of employment and leisure; the overstretching of teachers who so often have to provide services to fill the gaps left by austerity-wrecked families; asylum seekers who are unable to work and feared or just despised by their neighbours; gentrification that pushes white (and black) working class families out of boroughs where they have lived for generations; county lines; and the problems of rotten seaside towns being left behind. It’s an easy comparison to make between Top Boy and The Wire but I think it is justified. Both have rounded characters and great plot and both shine a light on society’s ills. Not since watching The Wire around a decade ago have I felt such indignation.
One way that the two series differ, however, is the portrayal of government agencies. The first agency to grace the screen in Top Boy is Immigration and they come to the tower block, are scarily officious, and pull the rug away from the loving one-parent family. This creates such a horrid and believable set of consequences that it makes me so angry. Why do this to this hardworking lady who provides so much? Why do this when, if she had been from Poland instead of Jamaica, she would have been here without a problem (until recently, but that’s another can of odious worms). Apart from the strict adherence to an arbitrary set of rules, I truly see no benefit. And today, despite the court of appeal ruling that many of the deportees leaving the UK on a government charter flight back to Jamaica were denied due legal process, it all seems so fucking relevant.
I digress slightly. The second agency is an undercover policeman whose cover is blown immediately and who then disappears. (But the writers are a wee bit like Dickens. Every character has more to him/her. Just wait). When we next come across uniform police they are humane, kind and show discretion. How refreshing to see the police painted in such a way. Towards the end we do see a raid and that of course is different, but on the whole the way the police is represented is light-touch and fair.
There’s more I could say on Top Boy but that’s it for now.
Take care, everyone and be kind.