Years and Years is an HBO British Sci-Fi drama series from 2019, created by Russell T. Davies. It follows the struggles of a family going through the changes of the near future.
Hello, there! I’m dos Santos, and this is Ulven Reviews, with Movies and series from all over the world and all eras. Today’s review is of the 2019 HBO series Years and Years created by Russell T. Davies.
It’s early 2019, Daniel Lyons (played by Russell Tovey), and his boyfriend Ralph (played by Dino Fetscher), are watching a debate on TV at their home in Manchester. In the debate, there’s a woman called Vivienne Rook (played by Emma Thompson), who says ignorant and outrageous things.
Horrified by her, Daniel exchanges text messages with his brother Stephen (played by Rory Kinnear). He lives in London and is watching the same program with his wife, Celeste (played by T’Nia Miller).
Meanwhile, their sister Rosie (played by Ruth Madeley) calls and says she’s going to the hospital to give birth to her second child a little earlier than expected. The next day, Daniel and Stephen are there, together with their grandmother Muriel (played by Anne Reid). The only sister missing is Edith (played by Jessica Hynes), an activist who travels the world fighting injustices.
Fast-forward five years. It’s now in 2024. Daniel meets Viktor Goraya (played by Maxim Baldry), a Ukrainian refugee who makes him hesitant about his cold marriage with his flat-earther husband, Ralph.
Stephen and Celeste have two teenage daughters. Ruby (played by Jade Alleyne) is a typical teenager, while Bethany (played by Lydia West) is struggling in her own skin, discovering herself as a trans-human.
Rosie has a reliable career as a chef, which allows her to provide and raise her two sons by herself. She’s independent and strong-willed and seems to be looking for a new boyfriend.
Edith is still around the world. She barely keeps in contact with the family, even in Muriel’s birthdays, an event that always unites the family at the end of each year.
During this half-decade, the outrageous woman, Vivienne Rook, began to gain popularity in politics. She loses in her first run as an independent, then forms her own party. With her dangerous populist rhetoric, she and her new party slowly pave the way to power.
In this ever-changing world, the family is always facing new challenges caused by the bizarre and extremist geopolitics at play, not only in the UK but in the whole planet.
Years and Years is a sci-fi drama with an emphasis on the last. But it’s very funny as well, especially the first three episodes, that really made me laugh. From the fourth on, things get a little darker, but still has it’s fun moments. It’s very balanced series as a whole, in this regard.
The story passes in the span of five years, from 2024 to 2029, and this proximity means the series deals with concerns of our current world. As Daniel says right before jumping to 2024, there was a world before and another after the 2008 crisis.
Since then, the far-right populism and nationalism grew, that by itself causes many horrors. Nothing of substance were done about climate change, even though we know about it for decades. We have an epidemic of misinformation and conspiracy theories. A refugee crisis and the awful way many of these people are being treated, like when neofascist Matteo Salvini had more power in Italy. The list goes on, but that’s mostly what the series is about.
Most of the issues brought up by the show are related to politics, and the Lyons family is the vehicle to make the story personal and relatable for the viewers. Usually, people don’t care about politics or substantial global events, but when these geopolitical events impact the life of the family, the audience feels much more.
However, this process was only effective because every single one of the characters was marvelously crafted. They’re very human, with many moral layers, moods, and struggles. Yet, none of it felt forced.
Since all the characters are so well-created, it’s hard for me to point a favorite. However, I would say it’s a tie between Bethany and Edith. They are the ones I could identify with the most.
Bethany’s sister, Ruby, however, didn’t have much to do. I loved that she was never just pushed aside and ignored, but with so much going on in the series, her normality didn’t allow her to shine as much as the others.
The one I dislike the most was Elaine (played by Rachel Logan), without a shadow of a doubt. I think she’s in the series just to be an annoyance, kinda necessary though.
Vivienne Rook is a masterpiece construction. She is just like the real populist politicians of today, who lie, distort, and say platitudes, but somehow convince people. There’s also a lot of subtle details about her shady career as an “entrepreneur” before entering politics for good. Summing it up, if she was a real person, she would be disgusting, but I have to admire how well she was crafted as a character.
Emma Thompson’s performance is really on point, perfect for the Trumpian woman. All the acting is top-notch, to be fair, but It’s never enough to say how excellent and under-appreciated Rory Kinnear is. He deserves all the recognition and more mainstream roles.
The settings are great. The houses are not so different than our contemporary ones, only with some extra gadgets. The technology is never over the top, and the most far-fetched, in my opinion, are some of the trans-human integration with technology. I think it will take more than 5-10 years to get where the series portrays.
The cinematography is exemplary and consistent for the whole series. Most of the time, the camera is well-put, perfectly framed, the colors and lighting look gorgeous. The establishing shots over the cities and roads are the best visually.
Another highlight of the cinematography is how well it puts us inside the scene. While in chaos, the camera enhances the feeling of that moment so much as to make you distressed.
The sound is another crucial element to put us inside the screen and feel as the characters are feeling. I won’t mention the occasion in which it happens to avoid spoilers, but for example, the first episode ends with sirens sounding off. It’s such an eerie and anguishing sound, and so effective to bring emotions up.
The score is just perfect. It’s perfect for the series, it’s perfect for the mad world in which we’re living in. It’s paradoxical, having a feeling of futuristic and historical at the same time, and of joy and despair as well. It’s really interesting.
I love the series finale. It didn’t disappoint at all and gave a worthy finish to such an outstanding story. It’s inspiring, revolutionary, beautiful and heart-warming.
To wrap things up, Years and Years is one of the best series I watched in a long time. I said earlier that it has a lot to do with politics, but it’s much more than that. It’s a series that talks with humanity, it talks to us, as human individuals, and it will touch everyone differently. I’ll give Years and Years 10 Fucking Moons.