There’s a scene in the first season of Peaky Blinders where Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) whips his razor blade-laced newsboy cap across the face of a gypsy who just proudly insulted his family. In that moment, all the coldness in his eyes bleeds out on the screen. It’s the kind of moment that makes you shout, “Oh, shit!” and lean back in your seat like Zach LaVine just threw down something vicious. It’s also the kind of scene that showcases the intriguingly raw brutality that lurks quietly around every corner in the early 1900s gangster series you need to be watching.
The show focuses on the Peaky Blinders—a British gang based on a real-life group from back in the day. Thomas Shelby, the leader of the dapper clan, is a war hero who operates the family’s bookie business while downing Irish whiskey and outsmarting every hapless soul he crosses. It’s in Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill), a detective set on bringing down the Shelby crew, however, that Tommy may have met his match.
That’s the plot, but it’s not the reason you should watch.
The reason you should watch Peaky Blinders is the perfection in every tiny detail. Each is unique and superb.
There’s the feel, like you’re a child watching grownups play some sort of violent game. The smallest cut delivers the cringe of chipped teeth on glass. Everything is taken to 11.
There’s the scenery and cinematography which give Birmingham a dreary and dangerous vibe (think Gangs of New York but hazier). Every shot looks like it was pulled from your favorite Instagram account.
There’s the music from the likes of The White Stripes and other modern rock acts that’s so wrong for the time but so right for the vibe.
There are the outfits. The fookin’ sharp outfits. Each of which is topped off by a hat worthy of hiding a memorable haircut.
Finally, there’s Murphy himself, who most only know from smaller parts in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. He steals the show through hypnotizingly poetic talk. Even the performance from (*SPOILER ALERT*) Tom Hardy in Season 2 can’t draw your attention away from the main Shelby.
The story, while good, is an afterthought.
The first season of the BBC Two series flew under the radar for most American audiences, and is only now picking up steam thanks to Netflix. It has a near-perfect rating, and, while Netflix ratings are notoriously suspect, it’s worthy of those filled-in stars.
Season 3 is coming, but if you haven’t started watching yet, you should do so fookin’ pronto.