“The Bodyguard”: Everything American TV Isn’t

New BBC Show Fills Gaps in Current Television Culture

Cecilia Barron, Editor-in-Chief

Falcon Rating: 5/5

In today’s emotionally-saturated landscape of television, easy tears and accessible laughs are in abundance while the true drama and thoughtful dialogues of the early 2000s are discarded. TV marketed solely to the emotions of consumers (see: This Is Us) dominate the cable viewerships, while watchers interested in the more developed TV of the previous decades are forced to skim through the shelves of Netflix.

The cheapening of TV has become most obvious in drama/action where shows that started off as genuine thrillers are quickly convoluted by love, sex, and familial strife. The best example of this is Scandal, a show which, in its first few seasons, was a genuinely good show with realistic ties to tether the otherwise unreliable story. Yet, as the conflict became a sideshow to the love affair, it lost its unique, badass charm. However, The Bodyguard, a British six-episode drama, has filled this TV void.

A BBC original which became a U.K. sensation in August, The Bodyguard stars Game of Thrones star Richard Madden as Joseph Budd, a veteran disillusioned with the British government. Through a series of coincidences, he ironically ends up serving as the primary security detail to the Home Secretary, Julia Montague, a conservative war hawk. The show takes place in a modern, fear-ridden London, still reeling from the waves of terrorist attacks. Just like any good superhero, doing his job isn’t enough—Budd wants to save London, too.

What makes The Bodyguard so good (but, from the reviewing standpoint, annoying) is that every episode—practically every scene—is a spoiler. The aforementioned plot is about as deep as one can go without revealing any major, shocking details that the six-episode mini-series packs into its hour-long segments. That being said, there are qualities of The Bodyguard which are strong enough to discuss devoid from the plot’s central points.

The Bodyguard proves that the American watcher must not sacrifice pleasure for quality, or vice versa.

Madden is the centerpiece of the show. His portrayal of the tortured Joseph Budd is the magnet which repels or attracts the characters surrounding him. A former stage actor, Madden’s theatricality accentuates the thriller parts of the series, while his familiarity with the subtlety of camera acting provides a hidden sweetness to his character.

Budd is a self-hating man who, despite Superman levels of heroism, can never seem to find the good in himself. This self-destruction, paired with Madden’s expert portrayal of the character’s vulnerable moments with his family, makes the high stakes that come with any action-packed drama all the more anxiety-inducing. Yes, it’s important Budd prevents the entirety of London from being blown up, but it is just as important to the watcher that Budd can begin to patch things up with his children’s mother. The Bodyguard does not try to hook its audience first with the promise of torturous love affairs, and then follow it up with a few scenes of explosions. The emotion of The Bodyguard is born out of the action, the latter increasing the stakes of the former.

As the excitement of the fall premiere season subsides and the boredom of winter begins to produce the annual “what should I watch next?” questions, don’t fall into the trap of hyper-emotional, under-developed, increasingly irrational shows like Gossip Girl or Grey’s Anatomy. Those shows have their merits and are widely enjoyed (by people like the writer herself) for good reasons. But The Bodyguard proves that the American watcher must not sacrifice pleasure for quality, or vice versa. Just as it once used to be, TV can be exciting, emotional, but most importantly good all at the same time.