What I’m Watching: Sweet shows to balance the darkness of Happy Valley

Last week I finished Détox – a suitably January title, though it’s called Off The Hook on Netflix where there is one series. It’s six episodes about two women in their twenties who decide to go on a digital detox. They are cousins and we see how their decision affects the whole extended family. I really liked this multi-generational aspect to the show.

The show is fun and a bit off the wall. From the wobbly fake ass in the first episode to the digital detox weekend that involves electric shocks and an obstacle course. It also uses some fun visual quirks which I enjoyed. It also made me think about how social media and other apps infiltrate every aspect of our lives. But mostly it’s a fun show with interesting lead characters trying to figure out what their place in the world.

I also recently finished the first series of That 90s Show on Netflix. It feels innocent and earnest. It reminds me of Boy Meets World which was an actual 90s show that also had its own reboot in the mid-Naughties with Girl Meets World, which followed Corey and Topanga’s daughter during her teenage years.

I like the Kitty and Red scenes but the teen characters are paper-thin. I feel like the show could have leaned into its 90s setting more and had more fun with it. Instead, they lean heavily on the cameos from the original cast members (those who are not deceased or awaiting trial for rape) and this makes it hard for the show to carve its own path. Especially as it was filmed before a live studio audience (just like Happy Days; another look-back, nostalgia show) and that audience gets loud whenever an old cast member turns up.

The show is sweet and silly and not particularly good but it soothed my January brain. I am sorry that Laurie didn’t get a mention, I would have liked to hear what she was up to.

All these sweet, gentle shows are in total contrast to the show I’ve been most excited about recently. I was delighted to have a brand new series of Happy Valley to help get through January. It is as good as it ever was. Catherine Cawood is still one of my favourite people on tv. Tommy Lee Royce is still one of the scariest. I could never watch the sexy vicar programme because I can’t see James Norris as anything other than a terrifying psychotic murderer. (This is only one of the reasons I don’t watch the sexy vicar programme.)

It’s been a great series. It’s interesting to revisit the characters after a long period of time. The quality of the writing means that it feels like time has passed; and just like the rest of us, some things have changed and some things are still exactly the same. There’s also lots of really interesting new characters, making terrible decisions. I’m really looking forward to the final episode next Sunday. At the same time, I know I’ll be bereft when it’s over.


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