Patrick Melrose is the latest offering from Sky Atlantic to hit our screens. Having received rave reviews from across the pond I was keen to see what all the fuss was about.
The first episode introduced us to the chaotic life of Patric Melrose, an affluent drug addict dealing with the recent news of his father’s death.
As a possible reaction to his father’s passing and symbolising a new stage of his life Patrick decides now is the time to kick the drugs for good. During a period of (partial) detoxification we are privy to not only hallucinations but also the memories of Patrick’s childhood and his relationship with his father.
If the first episode is said to suggest an abusive upbringing, then the second episode certainly confirms that Patrick was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of his own father.
Within this episode we are painted a picture of a very dysfunctional family controlled by a bullying authoritarian. A man who was living off the wealth of his wife after proving to be a failure in his own endeavours.
Living with such a controlling dictator had clearly affected Patrick’ s mother who spent most of her time in a state of intoxication and,despite loving her son, very much allowed her husband to determine the relationship she maintained with her only child.
In the third episode we return to a sober Patrick as an adult. It seems the death of his father has been a trigger and is forcing him to deal with the memories of his abusive childhood and the resulting affects.
It is in this episode that Patrick establishes the important relationships in his life with the viewer and seems to be making the first step to getting back on track with the clarity of sobriety.
However, even though my brief retelling of the introductory episodes reads like a low budget Netflix documentary minus the cult, this new show manages to deliver this grim reality with flamboyance.
Growing up in the opulent surroundings of the upper classes, summer houses in the South of France and dinner parties with royalty, the setting of this drama allows the viewer to detach him or herself from the reality that so far we have been watching a man suffer with substance abuse after being abused throughout his childhood.
The luxurious furnishings, the lavish parties and the eminnent wealth of the characters before us allow the average Joe to act as voyeur to a world unrelated to his own.
Ofcourse this goes hand in hand with the fact that the abuse is never seen, and never confirmed until episode three when Patrick confides in a close friend.
We are not exposed to the harsh reality but given access to the bare facts as a third party.
The beauty that we see before us, the witty repartee, the characters brimming with articulation all dress the subject matter with flair and style.
These first three episodes are setting the scene, allowing us to assess where Patrick is in his life.
By the end of the third episode we see that Patrick seems to be committed to a cleaner existence, we are shown that he has morals by refusing the advances of his friends love (or possibly more like lust) interest and apologising to an old flame. We see him vocalising the abuse he suffered and we are shown, in an encounter with an old acquaintance that there is hope after drugs.
It seems that there is also hope for Patrick. Time will tell in what looks to be another impressive work from Sky Atlantic.