The State of the Union – TV series review

I was fascinated by the concept of this BBC mini TV series. A troubled married couple, Louise and Tom, decide to attend marital counseling. Before they go to their counselor, they meet at the pub for a drink. The entire TV series is based on those meetings in the pub. It has 10 episodes of 10 minutes each, and I was seriously tempted to watch them all in one go.

This is a comedy masterpiece in miniature, written by Nick Hornby and Stephen Frears It is executed brilliantly by Rosamond Pike and Chris O’Dowd. The acting is superb. Each look and tone speak volumes.

The social comedy is brilliant. The verbal dueling is done by people who speak mainly using sarcasm and understatement. They know how to hurt each other expertly, mostly because they have loved each other for quite a long time. Tom and Louise struggle with their conflicting views on marriage, life, and, last but not least, Brexit

They peek at the counselor’s other patients and try to compare themselves to them. ‘At least we’re not that miserable’, and ‘will we still be that unhappy when we’re old?’ are recurring statements.

Lukacs’s statement about the critic/essayists applies to the screenwriters of State of the Union. “And the irony I mean consists in the critic always speaking about the ultimate problems of life, but in a tone which implies that he is only discussing (…) the inessential and petty ornaments of real life… an essayist looks for truth but finds life” (“On the Nature and Form of the Essay”, a letter to Leo Popper).

Hats off, gentlemen. I wish I could write like this.

P.S. I also wish I could carry Rosamund Pike’s outfits with her effortless grace but that’s a separate problem…

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