Free Minds & Free Markets

Showtime’s Patrick Melrose Is Tiresome Misery Porn: New at Reason

The talents of actors like Benedict Cumberbatch and Jennifer Jason Leigh go to waste.

'Patrick Melrose''Patrick Melrose,' ShowtimeTelevision critic Glenn Garvin takes a look at five-episode Showtime miniseries Patrick Melrose, which is based on a series of novels in the misery-lit genre. Garvin is not a fan of either the show or the type of despair-driven storytelling it is based on:

They rarely have actual plots—or perhaps they all have one plot, in which random horrible stuff keeps happening until it stops, usually after death, of the abuser or abusee. They are too horrifying to allow any real focus on characterization. And if there's any lesson to be learned, it's not much more than, "Well, you may have slightly overstated the case when you were 16 and compared your dad to Hitler for taking away the keys to the car for a week."

So it certainly goes with Patrick Melrose, Showtime's five-episode miniseries adaptation of the St. Albyn novels. And unless you have a mysterious fascination with ravaged children or junkies coming apart at the seams, this show is best avoided.

The plundered child and the wasted wastrel are, of course, different snapshots of the same person at different ages. Each Melrose episode is based on a different book, each of which takes place in a different year and with Melrose suffering from a different set of pathologies at the hands of his parents, a penniless British nobleman and his obscenely rich American wife.

Photo Credit: 'Patrick Melrose,' Showtime


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