Happy Valley

I’ve just discovered Happy Valley, a compelling, gritty police drama starring Sarah Lancaster from The Paradise. Lancaster plays a police sergeant in a small town awash in drugs.  She’s great

The series covers one crime for six episodes. A milk toast accountant asks his boss for a raise. Though the wimp has been loyal and contributes greatly to the company’s success, Mr. Nevinson, the president, says it wouldn’t be fair. If he gives this man a raise, all the employees should get raises. Still Nevinson says he’ll think it over. Resent and pessimism eats away at the accountant, who turns to a dodgy acquaintance and proposes they abduct Nevinson’s daughter for a high ransom. An alliance is made, an plan hatched.

The next day, Nevinson promises to pay for the accountant’s daughters to go to expensive high schools. Also, he shares that his wife is battling cancer.

Though he tries, the accountant can’t convince his pal to give up on the kidnapping. Greed prevails. The wheels are in motion.

As compelling as the crime is, the police sergeant, Catherine Cawood, is up to her eyeballs in problems, yet still stays afloat and wins our hearts. Let’s see what she’s up against:

  1. She’s divorced.
  2. She’s raising her grandson.
  3. She’s the mother of two grown children, her daughter committed suicide after being raped and her son won’t speak to her.
  4. She lives with her sister, a recovering heroin addict, played by Siobahn  Finneran a.k.a. Mrs. O’Brien from Downton Abbey.
  5. She’s woman in a man’s field. (But she’s pretty well accepted so this isn’t “An Issue”.)
  6. She lives in a gray town with little opportunity and lots of drugs.
  7. Her daughter’s rapist was never tried for that crime and is now out of jail. (He was there for theft.)

Lancaster creates an unforgettable character, who doesn’t fit the classic mold of leading lady, which limits so many American dramas. For two episodes of the three I’ve seen so far, Lancaster’s got a swollen black eye from chasing a suspect.

Drama at its best here. Watch it on Netflix.


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