Showtime gives comedy-drama series its U.S. debut
Some people may not find much humor in re-entering society after a stretch in prison, but a British series looks to the lighter side of that while trying to keep it real.
Originally made for the BBC and getting its U.S. debut with two episodes Sunday, Nov. 10, on Showtime, the seriocomic “Back to Life” casts its creator, executive producer and co-writer Daisy Haggard (“Episodes”) as the newly paroled Miri. The circumstances of her crime come into focus as she tries to fit back into her coastal community and re-establish relationships with her parents (Geraldine James, Richard Durden) and others. Some prove to be unaccepting, though, making it that much more of a chore for Miri to clean up her personal residue.
With producers of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s much-acclaimed Amazon show “Fleabag” also behind it, “Back to Life” makes Miri’s situation “as hard for her as humanly possible,” Haggard confirms. “By putting a woman in her late 30s back in her hometown where she did the worst thing that’s ever happened in that town and she’s got no job, no friends and a whole town that hates her, we thought it presented the most amount of challenges. It doesn’t sound like a comedy, but we took it to the extreme because extremes are quite fun, aren’t they?”
Except for the character’s misbehavior, Haggard claims that she and Miri have much in common “in the sense that I am a relentless optimist. Every time I fall down, I get back up again and keep on trying. I suppose (Miri) shares my sort of hope, which meant that I could bring the lightness to the part when it was needed, because that’s sort of a bit like me.”
For any ostracism Miri faces upon returning from being incarcerated, Haggard maintains that her alter ego is “one of the lucky ones. People leave prison and they have nowhere to go. The truth is, we have written the show about a privileged girl who has a family, a home and a family that wants her in the home. She has somewhere to go, so she goes there.” Haggard also appreciates the reunion with co-star James that the series affords her. “She’s played my mom three times, and my real mom is getting really jealous now. She’s had enough.”
Realizing that she could have gone different ways in devising a series for herself, Haggard deems “Back to Life” true to the vision she had for it. Still, she offers a bemused lament of what might have been: “Can I just say how stupid am I to write a show (like this) for myself when I could have been wearing beautiful outfits and looked really glamorous?”