“Years and Years”
“Years and Years” starts out bang up to the moment with some edited in voice overs of news stories from that day, including the death of Doris Day. With a big cast, the characters are a blended family of different races, orientations, national origins, ages and abilities muddling along together. The political backdrop is a contemporary Brexit and Trump infused cocktail of discontent and a fracturing establishment. Russell Tovey is likeable nerdy but hot gay guy. Emma Thompson is an emergent politician who gets away with saying the objectionable in such a shockingly blunt way that it comes across as honesty.
There is little time to get to care about the characters before moving forward to the final days of a second Trump term cut with images of passing political events, birthdays and marriages. The destination of the characters starts to unfold in an intriguing way. The earlier political and cultural debates have flowered into seemingly logical but exaggerated conclusions. Politically a belligerent and homophobic Russia has forced Ukrainian asylum seekers into the United Kingdom. An expansionist China is gobbling up land. A late second term Trump is throwing aside all remaining shackles of diplomacy. Culturally the transgender debate has evolved into a transhuman aspiration to cast aside the physical body for a fully digital replica. Fake news has raced out of control to the point where all facts are debatable. Conspiracy theories about the earth being flat or that germs are the propaganda of the pharmaceutical industry abound.
All these issues play out in the lives of the key characters. The first episode fails to build much empathy for them but the evolving social absurdity and introduction of impending nuclear annihilation does a good job of thirst building. A sudden sex scene between Tovey and an asylum seeker tries to do the same thing but it is gratuitously headline seeking whilst being tame. You hear the sizzle but don’t see anything. “Years and Years” goes into that very 2019 feeling of going down the wrong tracks at an ever increasing speed. The pick-up in pace has a clunky but absurd fun too it.