Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: The (not so) Secret Life of Students versus The Honourable Woman
STUDENTS get drunk, do stupid things and feel homesick: those were the shocking secrets uncovered in the first episode of The Secret Life of Students, Channel 4’s latest slice of unflinching voyeurism. While it focused on a clutch of freshers at Leicester University, the twist this time was that the programme makers were able to delve into their subjects’ social media postings, texts and Google searches, flashing their contents up on screen as the unsurprising stories unfolded.
In fact, nobody had a secrets at all. When self-proclaimed king of banter Aiden gave insecure Josie chlamydia, both parties rushed to tell their friends and flatmates. A text reading “Haha banter” summed up his mates’ attitude to the situation while hers were lacking in sympathy – one tweeted a gif of the world’s smallest violin in response. The whole bunch seemed to think a dose of the clap was the most hilarious event to occur in their halls since Aiden inserted a vodka-soaked tampon into his anus.
Had the show focused on Aiden alone, I fear my metamorphosis into Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells would have been complete. The presence of lost, lonely history student Lauren balanced things out. That said, the response of her fellow students to her disgust at their Nazi-themed drinking game plunged me back into despair. “What’s wrong?” asked another resident of her block, “Do you just really hate Hitler?” They concluded that her distaste for Nazi salutes must be because of her history-loving ways and not, you know, down to being a decent human being. If you stick with the whole four-part series, it’s likely your faith in humanity will have been chipped away entirely.
From no honour among students to The Honourable Woman, Hugo Blick’s new eight-part thriller about the Middle-East. The drama comes with some extra star wattage with the excellent Maggie Gyllenhaal in the central role as Baroness Nessa Stein, an British-Israeli CEO and philanthropist attempting to bring a social conscience to the family firm. The difficult part? They’re arms dealers. Of course, as Tony Stark could tell you, trying to bring ethics to the bomb-selling rarely goes smoothly. We weren’t many minutes into episode one before the Baroness was hissing at one former business partner: “It’s the Middle East, enemies is what you make.”
If Blick’s 2011 conspiracy thriller The Shadow Line was your cup of tea, The Honourable Woman will hit the same spot. But, like its predecessor, this drama is studiously mannered with many lines that sound like they were crafted in the search for a Bafta rather than reality. If you can shake off the air of pomposity the performances are excellent particularly Gyllenhaal’s poised turn and Andrew Buchan as her family man brother who it seems may have a secret to hide. Blick managed to make The Shadow Line’s conspiracy pay off in the end, so I’ve every faith he’ll manage the same feat here. Even if he doesn’t, middle east intrigue will leave you far less dour than the depressing doings in Leicester.