A charming hymn to the indomitable human spirit, anchored by a star turn

When I see my latest energy bill, the price of gas at the pump, the light fixtures currently installed in the government… well, living off the grid, away from the grip of society, sounds pretty appealing . This is how Danny (Lewis Gribben) spent the first two decades of his life in Pete Jackson’s Channel 4 drama somewhere boy, raised on nothing more than a diet of mini-golf, gramophone records and Charlie Chaplin films. It all sounds rather idyllic.

“Busy day tomorrow,” says Steve (Rory Keenan), Danny’s father, who kept him locked up in the family home. “Danny? he calls his son, “I love you mate.” Next thing we know, Steve apparently committed suicide and Danny went to live with his aunt, Sue (Lisa McGrillis) and son Aaron (Samuel Bottomley). Of the, somewhere boy is an examination of what is a more dire way to raise a child: in our horrible society or locked in a cabin in the woods watching casablanca in rehearsal? On the outside, Aaron struggles to form meaningful and relentlessly objective friendships with women, calling them “roast beef” and saying “she might get it”. Danny struggles with, well, everything.

“While we don’t apologize for his actions,” the vicar (Matthew Bates) said at Steve’s funeral, “I hope we can find the strength in our hearts to forgive him.” For Danny, there is nothing to forgive; for everyone in his life, there is no chance of forgiveness. By locking his son at home, Steve created a narrative of a world populated by “monsters”, ensuring that Danny could never step outside the surface of their shared world. When a social worker comes to visit the family, Danny is confused. “What does she mean, ‘abuse’?” Danny asks, tears welling up in his doe eyes. “I have not been abused!”

As a centerpiece, Gribben is utterly compelling as Danny, perfectly synthesizing the toughness of someone raised by a survivalist father with the fragility of a young man experiencing the ups and downs of life for the first time. adult life. Bottomley and McGrillis are also excellent – the performance trio at the heart of somewhere boy become an exploration of the different ways humans mask sentience. By the practical aspect, by the aggressiveness, by the total dissociation. Occasionally, the quality of those performances is dulled by a script that sails too close to the headwind. “I didn’t know I was going to have to share my room with a complete mentalist!” Aaron shouts.

“I lost your mother, Danny,” Steve says to his baby boy in one of the series’ many flashbacks. “I’m not going to lose you, too.” In its darkest moments, somewhere boy is an exploration of generational trauma, passed down from father to son. It’s a thick, dark vein that runs through the story. But, more often than not, Jackson’s storytelling has a touch of levity, almost a comedic sensibility: this reformed feral child, unleashed on civilization, bringing his hybrid of cynical and ascetic philosophy to the pubs and farms of northern England. The friendship that forms between Danny and Aaron is so winning – so endearing – that it carries the show through twists and turns of revenge plots and romance.

With episodes of only 20 minutes and a casual, almost retro style, somewhere boy is a refreshing, non-traumatic take on the rather hackneyed domestic confinement genre. It’s no BedroomNope MichaelNope Stockholm, PennsylvaniaRather, it’s a charming hymn to the indomitable human spirit, anchored by a star performance from Lewis Gribben.

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