HomeTelevision‘Mood’ Review: Sharp BBC America Series Tackles Music, Social Media and Sex...

‘Mood’ Review: Sharp BBC America Series Tackles Music, Social Media and Sex Work

The musical drama Mood arrives on BBC America having adopted a one-woman-show-to-TV-series pipeline much like the one which beforehand yielded Chewing Gum and Fleabag.

Does that imply Mood creator/star Nicôle Lecky is the subsequent Michaela Coel or Phoebe Waller-Bridge? That’s a excessive and pretty unreasonable bar to count on any relative newcomer to succeed in, however primarily based on this collection, it’s apparent that Lecky is a charismatic and versatile performer with a particular writing voice and a few provocative, if perhaps not revelatory, issues on her thoughts.


The Bottom Line

Instantly establishes a expertise to observe.

Airdate: 10 p.m. Sunday, November 6 (BBC America)
Cast: Nicôle Lecky, Lara Peake, Jessica Hynes, Paul Kaye, Mia Jenkins, Jordan Duvigneau, Flo Wilson, Jorden Myrie
Creator: Nicôle Lecky

At solely six episodes of 45-ish minutes apiece, Mood is value watching as Lecky’s breakout, no matter whether or not or not she follows within the sprawling footsteps of these latest generational skills.

Lecky performs Sasha, a largely directionless 20-something dwelling together with her mother (Jessica Hynes), stepdad (Paul Kaye) and bratty teenage half-sister (Mia Jenkins) in East London. Sasha desires of being a singer — her imagined stardom is delivered to life through music video interludes that punctuate the present — however her actuality is a haze of booze, weed and regrettable interactions together with her latest ex Anton (Jordan Duvigneau). One such interplay will get Sasha in bother with the police and causes her dad and mom to kick her to the curb.

Briefly homeless, Sasha attracts the eye of Carly (Lara Peake), a bubbly social media influencer who offers her a glimpse of what seems to be like a wonderful and beforehand inaccessible world of low-level celebrities, fancy events and overflowing swag baggage. Sasha, fairly inept on social media herself, sees a pathway to reputation and latches onto Carly. But the road between parasite and host blurs when Sasha discovers Carly’s participation within the profitable, after which shady, world of a transactional house that very a lot resembles OnlyFans however positively isn’t known as “OnlyFans” right here.

The gateway from social-media success to intercourse work, all too simply crossed in Sasha’s unhappy desperation, is initially thrilling. But at what value?

Mood premiered on BBC Three within the UK in March, however arrives on American TV months after Issa Rae’s Rap Sh!t lined comparable terrain: musical aspirations in a social media-dominated panorama and the intersection of empowerment and exploitation on the coronary heart of contemporary intercourse work.

You absolutely can’t blame Mood for any overlaps, although Rae’s darkly comedian method to the subject was higher suited to unfold over eight half-hour episodes than Lecky’s extra tragic perspective on this barely rushed, largely close-ended season. Sasha is headed for a considerably formulaic descent, one which isn’t all the time simple to chart provided that she’s a catastrophe from the pilot on. The collection’ pacing and its character progressions are sometimes uneven, and in case you requested me the time-frame lined by the season, I couldn’t start to inform you.

Lecky and administrators Dawn Shadforth and Stroma Cairns seize among the fundamentals of social media extraordinarily effectively — each its alluring and illusory connection to an outdoor world and its elementary narcissism and loneliness. (Follow me on Twitter. Please.) My favourite aesthetic machine within the collection is the best way Sasha’s face is ceaselessly mirrored in her telephone display. It is, as a special British collection has famous, a black mirror, one as more likely to mirror the particular person you worry your self turning into because the avatar you want to be.

From there, the collection successfully illustrates layers of desperation — from the claustrophobic sterility of Sasha’s preliminary state of affairs to the vapid preening of her first social media occasion to the evolving requests and calls for of her “DailyFanz” patrons — as her preliminary willingness to submit a couple of suggestive images makes means for prostitution of the physique and soul. Because the present’s plot is considered one of escalating degradation, it’s concurrently haunting, draining and predictable, although I give Lecky credit score for avoiding each one-sided judgment — intercourse work in and of itself isn’t the issue, however particular contexts and circumstances absolutely are — and essentially the most absolute pits of despair.

The major factor stopping that last excessive is the collection’ sensible deployment of Sasha’s music, written by Lecky and Kwame “KZ” Kwei-Armah Jr. Her songs are uncooked and uncovered, echoing Sasha’s starvation for identification, however on the similar time they’re hooky as hell and, as carried out by Lecky with sturdy pipes and a easy hip-hop move, they’re plausible indicators of the character’s expertise. Sasha retreats into music in moments of heightened emotion; relying in your perspective, when a music video breaks out in the course of a stroll of disgrace or a visit to the welfare workplace, it might characterize both her escape or her psychological breakdown. Whether they’re intentional fantasies or involuntary hallucinations, it’s simple to faucet your ft to the rhythm, producing an empathy that is perhaps troublesome if Sasha’s errors of judgment got here in a much less whimsical package deal.

The musical scenes are additionally the place Lecky is ready to let some pleasure shine via in a efficiency that may in any other case be dominated by shades of self-disgust and disassociation, not that she doesn’t ship gradations for every. The music is hope and the hope, even when it’s fleeting, is one other factor that retains you rooting for Sasha irrespective of what number of dumb issues she does. It’s an excellent and uncompromising efficiency, and it must be as a result of Lecky is in each scene.

There usually isn’t sufficient for the supporting gamers to do. Peake has essentially the most unstable position and offers essentially the most dynamic secondary efficiency, although it’s one that may most likely be polarizing. Carly is flighty, superficial and annoying by design. She embodies a sure kind of influencer who lives an alluring life one submit at a time, however would clearly be monstrous, albeit in a tragic means, in case you ever received to know them. So, principally, everyone on Instagram.

Hynes (Spaced) and Kaye (Game of Thrones) are just a little overqualified for such restricted display time, however they nonetheless give the impression of absolutely inhabited characters. It’s sufficient for Flo Wilson and Jorden Myrie to convey normal decency as figures from Sasha’s previous life, or for Jenkins to benefit from a couple of amusingly bratty scenes and one devastatingly good scene with Lecky. It may appear unhealthy that so most of the characters in Mood really feel like they most likely don’t exist when Sasha leaves the room — or you possibly can simply take it as an extension of the present’s roots in her narcissism.

Or you possibly can hint it again to the collection’ theatrical origins. That play, which had the catchier title of Superhoe, was one model of a showcase for Lecky, and now Mood will assist her attain a far wider viewers. It’s a superb collection with a tragic, however not too unhappy, glimpse at Twenty first-century dwelling, and it has me eagerly anticipating no matter comes subsequent for Lecky.



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