I just finished one season of Peaky Blinders and it is quite amazing that I’ve stopped to write about it. It’s as addictive and engrossing as I expected it to be, and I’m just as in love with Thomas Shelby as is the complete ‘PFB’ fan base around the world. Most certainly, this is no critical review; it’s just an account of a random thought that struck me as I was watching it. Something I thought could be put out here. You may or may not agree; completely fine.
Peaky Blinders sure is unique in its approach to the treatment of its underlying theme of a gangster world in the 19th century. The thick accents and the shady backdrops do well to compliment the overall appeal of it. Other than the popular elements that have collectively made the series popular worldwide, what caught my attention was that this was in line with a pattern that most shows employ, especially when casting an almost-psychopathic character in the leading role.
The resistance to system. Notice series/movies like Money Heist, Prison Break, Now You See Me, and even the recent Indian series like Scam 92 and the infamous Dhoom movies. There’s one thing they all have in common – the lead roles defy the system, break laws and do things that are not conventionally the ‘right’ thing to do, but end up having the audiences rooting for them nonetheless. More so, the viewers want the apparent revolutionaries who defy the systems of law, police and institutions to triumph.
Antihero themes aren’t new at all. From major franchises employing the theme such as The Dark Knight to random chick flicks casting ‘revolutionary’ or ‘radical’ students defying high school laws, the idea of redefining the ‘hero’ has been experimented over and over and has been widely successful as well. Quite naturally, the ‘system’ including the government and police is portrayed in the bad light here, giving out ideas that the system is always oppressive, inconsiderate and always in need of being put to its place by antiheroes. It did something terrible to the antihero and all his/her consequential actions against it, including dramatic thefts, bombing and sociopathic behaviour, is justified.
I don’t mean to sound didactic but shows like these have been successful in creating a large part of the population that considers being ‘revolutionary’ a cool personality trait; irrespective of the necessity of such emotion. The incessant ranting that this community does over everything on social media and elsewhere is rather depressing, even for the ones that see positivity everywhere. The world is fine, there are hardly any officers roaming around targeting a handsome Thomas Shelby and employing the entire police force to avenge a personal grudge.
No, obviously not saying that the system has always been right. There have been plenty of loopholes and there have been antiheroes who were awesome. But the consistent portrayal of the administrative and defence institutions in the oppressor image hasn’t done too much good. But it is a cool idea for a web series alright, as long as it doesn’t have sublime psychological impacts on vulnerable minds. Well, having said all that, I’ll return to Peaky Blinders.