AFTER the conclusion of the This Is England ’90 series last night, Elise Hughes reviews the Channel Four series…

The return of Shane Meadows’ award-winning drama series ‘This Is England ’90’ allowed anticipated viewers to watch one whole, gritty year of the skin-head gang’s lives from a drug-induced spring through to a long, emotional winter accompanied by drunken fights, classic 90’s raves, lots and lots of tears and the perfect Church wedding.

#throwbackthursday #tbt Get your 90s clobber out and share it for the love of #thisisengland90 #tie90

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Episode one: Spring

Episode one displayed an hour long introduction to the character’s lives now they’ve made their way into the 90’s – Woody is now a stay-at-home dad sharing the role with Milky, (and also now rocking a mega-cool beard). Lol is now the breadwinner of the household, earning her money by running the kitchen as the school’s dinner lady with her Mum and sister, Kelly. And Shaun, Gadget and Harvey are up to their usual shenanigans, smoking drugs, getting drunk and causing fights – with Shaun still very much in love with Smell, making viewers shed a tear simultaneously with him as he discovers she has a new love interest.  

Ultimately, viewers are plunged back into the chaotic, turbulent lifestyle of the gang after a 4 year break since This Is England ’88 when an intoxicated, drug induced and heartbroken Shaun starts a jealous fight with Smell’s new “pirate” boyfriend, Harrison, with help from the others, of course.

Episode two: Summer

This episode showcases exactly what the 90’s is most famous for – the raves, (or in this case, a “séance”). A despaired Shaun and what appears to be a broken Kelly tag along with Harvey, Gadget and Trev to attend the rave whilst Lol, Woody and Milky stay at home and have a barbeque with the family.

What portrays the 90’s most accurately in this episode is the excessive alcohol and drug use displayed by the gang whilst on their night out; it is through the character of Kelly that we see the effects of this drug taking and more specifically the effects of taking ecstasy. The blurred, erratic footage allows viewers to see the world through Kelly’s eyes that night, representing the ultimate effect that the drugs have on the vision, the memory and the mind, and also conveying Kelly’s gradual mental deterioration – receiving mixed reactions from viewers.

Chanel Cresswell, (Kelly) manages to pull at our heartstrings with her acting as this episode depicts clear signs that her character is at the brink of breaking, struggling to cope with her father’s death and progressively abusing drugs, which later explodes in the following episode.

Episode three: Autumn

In this volcanic episode, Shane Meadows takes us back to the dark issues presented in ‘86, specifically tackling rape and the murder of Lol and Kelly’s father. The episode’s climax was Lol’s dramatic confession to her friends and family that she was behind her father’s murder, and fans struggled to hold their tears back.  

Vicky McClure, Joseph Gilgun and Chanel Cresswell stole the show with their powerful acting in one of the most intense and traumatic scenes to air on television; fans and celebrities posted their appreciation all over Twitter.

Episode 4: Winter (The Finale)

Fellow fans and I waited eagerly for this episode to air on Channel 4, half desperate to watch it and half desperate for it to never premiere – as it means that our favourite series This Is England is no more.

In a truly unsettling, feature-length finale, many issues were concluded, yet many were left unresolved and viewers were still asking questions – raising the hopeful argument that there is still the possibility of another series.

The episode begins with a newly released Combo on his first day of his new job, in the episode he appears to truly be a changed man, with myself and many viewers taking a liking to him. Unfortunately, This Is England is a brutal series and Meadows does not hold back; Milky and his family finally get their revenge on Combo since he violently attacked Milky in ’83.

Initially, most viewers would be more than happy to see that Combo had received a taste of his own medicine, as the 2006 film introduced him as a sadistic, racist and violent criminal; however, This Is England ’90 conveyed a truly reformed man, making for a profoundly disturbing and upsetting scene.

Fortunately, not all is blue. Meadows also made room for tears of happiness aswell as tears of despair. Woody and Lol finally got married and Lol wore a dress. The wedding’s reception saw Kelly re-enter the gang after her recent emotional breakdown and heroin intake. Smell verbally attacked Shaun’s new college girlfriend and attempted to win Shaun back whilst he proudly walked away. Gadget and Harvey regained their ‘bromanctic’ relationship and the gang danced happily all night. Meanwhile, Milky sheepishly watched from the bar after he was questioned by Lol on Combo’s whereabouts. And in traditional cliff-hanger fashion, we are still left aimlessly wondering whether Combo is dead or alive.

To conclude, This Is England ’90 was both powerful and captivating, with immense acting and an overwhelmingly talented script. Thank-you, Shane Meadows, and cast of This Is England.  

Watch the trailer for the series here:

By: Elise Hughes
@elisexhughes

Not watched This Is England ’90 yet? Head over to 4od now and watch 86’ through to ’90: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/this-is-england-90

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