2 November 2006 | B24
Hypocrisy and Hubris
Now that all three episodes have aired in the U.S., one may fairly comment on the overall production.
Any comparison to The Great Gatsby is at best superficial, given that the only clues are incidental to the main thrust of the story. In most respects it is a uniquely British tale with relevance to any similar American theme to be found in something Reaganesque or Bushite rather than anything from the era of Calvin Coolidge. Interestingly, Margaret Thatcher is labelled in one telling scene as more the tool of the ruling classes than their leader -- just as their American contemporaries in the Republican Party have been.
But the main elements of the story -- class division and envy, reverse snobbery, interethnic relations that have evolved from the disintegration of the Empire -- are less comparable to the scene on this side of the Atlantic. Simple hypocrisy of the kind found in nearly all politicians and the hubris resulting from too much success found too young in life lie at the center of it all. Add to that the drug scene and AIDS in the 1980's and you have a compelling story.
The title is also intriguing. It suggests that beauty may be found in amongst all the hypocritical swill running as counteractive impulses that seem on the surface to be merely eccentric. Thus the character of Nick, casually characterized by the housekeeper as "no good," is really something of an antihero. At the beginning of the story he is all superficial and bright, and at the end he is simply bemused.
It may be melodramatic and a bit soapy, but I liked it.