What is the story about?
Robyn is a publicist who works at Mills Paulson PR, a high-profile public relations agency. Under the watchful eye of the imperious Caroline, Robyn, together with spoilt-and dysfunctional colleague Eve, and simple intern Melody, goes about managing various PR crises for their clients. However, Robyn's professional life is completely at odds with her personal life, where she's struggling with drug addiction and her mother's suicide, while being in two minds over whether she wants to get pregnant or not.
Honestly, the premise itself is intriguing. Everyone dealing with celebrities have had to deal with their publicists at every step of the way, and creator Oliver Lansley decides to show us how dysfunctional the lives of the publicists really are. Robyn is an A-grade manager of crises, or "challenges", as she calls them, but she is woefully inept when it comes to managing her own life. However, Lansley scores the perfect balance in this show, by juxtaposing the dark hole her personal life resembles, with the sheer ludicrousness and audacity of what she has to pull off as a publicist. Together with Eve and Melody, and under the watchful eye of Caroline, it is a joy--and sometimes, even shock--to see how Robyn keeps dancing around various moral and ethical boundaries in order to ensure her clients have their reputations intact.
Personally speaking, I think the season ends at an interesting juncture. The show could either enjoy a campy run a la Scandal, or it could be something more profound and darker, like Mad Men. Either way, Lansley's writing somehow helps the show overcome a giddy first-half and close out the season with a hell of a finale. I cannot wait to see what Robyn and her comrades come up with next.
The performances are spot on. Anna Paquin kills it as Robyn, who always likes to keep everything in control, even when her own life is falling apart. Sophie Okonedo is absolutely electric as Caroline, Robyn's hard-as-nails boss, whose steely demeanour masks a concern about the lives of her publicists. Lydia Wilson plays the unhinged, and yet fiercely loyal, Eve with gusto, who uses foul talk to cover up her vulnerabilities, while Rebecca Benson plays the slack-jawed Melody who feels like a fish out of water in this dog-eat-dog world. Genevieve Angelson is great as Ruth, Robyn's sister, while Arinze Kene is competent as Sam, Robyn's boyfriend.
Music & Other Departments
Ruairi O'Brien and Greg Duffield do a decent job behind the camera. Alexander Wolfe composes a piano-heavy score for the show, with an earworm of a theme. Polly Aspinall's art direction captures the vulgarity of London's high-flying class in detail.
The second episode is actually the most shocking. A young teenage classical star wants to get an image makeover to be more edgy, and the entire agency convinces her that making a sex tape is the best possible move to boost her image. However, the viewer might not be prepared for how the sex tape is pulled off.
The season finale is a clever, and brilliant, reflection of the first episode, where Robyn, who is in control of the situation, even when her star client is losing his mind, ends up losing it by the end of the season. Also, Caroline's advice to Melody about public relations being a "cuckoo's egg" is an apt analogy for describing the madness of their professions.
Because so many plot points are going on in each episode, it would have perhaps served the makers better if the runtime of every episode were increased by another ten minutes or so. Some of the jokes actually don't register with full impact because of this.
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?
Yes. This show is a guilty pleasure, and an addictive one at that.