If you subscribe to Netflix, an image of Cillian Murphy with a ridiculous haircut has most likely passed your screen. You’re already kinda freaked out by his piercing blue eyes and angular jaw, so it doesn’t help that he stars in a show with a name like Peaky Blinders. What is that, a fetishy peep show kinda program? “I thought it was about dancing or something,” Craig Ferguson said.
Peaky Blinders is a gritty gangster drama set in Birmingham, England, just after the end of World War I. A former colleague suggested I watched it, if not for any other reason than my Anglophilia.
I’m not a violence and gun shots kinda gal. I like pretty things from Downton Abbey and sparkly jewels from the royal collection. I am not someone who listens intently as a few men fight in a soot and mud-covered city like Birmingham circa 1919.
Cripes, was I wrong. Two days and 12 episodes later, I was finished with seasons 1 and 2 of Peaky Blinders, and I am hungry as hell for more. The drama premiered in England in September 2013 on BBC 2, but Netflix landed the rights to air the first two seasons this past fall, and will premiere season three shortly after it airs back in the UK (no premiere date has been set).
Here are 5 reasons why you have to – have to – watch Peaky Blinders on Netflix.
1. It’s A Show That Deals With World War I and PTSD.
Today, we speak of the trauma soldiers experienced on the battle field, but back then, few weren’t willing to admit to being affected by what they saw. Murphy’s character, Thomas Shelby, served in France and was honored for gallantry, but he was unable to leave the war behind. Watching a character as fierce, violent and quietly contemplative as Shelby break in the face of these flashbacks was nothing short of heartbreaking.
“It is a very tumultuous time with the fall out of the First World War when so many young men died and the effect that had on the soldiers who survived,” Murphy told the BBC. “I did a lot of reading, research and talking to people, they were deeply disillusioned to the point of being bitter by what happened in the Great War. Many of them were hugely traumatised and obviously PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and stuff like that didn’t exist and they were just thrown back into civilian life and told to get on with it and that’s the sort of the situation my character finds himself in. He was sergeant major and he was decorated so he’s come back into this and has to try and fit those experiences into normal life. He’s come back from there with a massive disdain for authority, and godless. He’s seen the fragility of life and how it disappears and so Tommy thinks, ‘right I’m here and I’m going to do something with this life and this family.'”
2. Peaky Blinders Only Sounds Like A Cute Name.
Way back in the day, men from working-class Birmingham would sew razor blades into their caps so that they were ready to fight at any given moment (and fight dirty, at that). These men run a gambling ring, and they are ruthless.
3. Cillian Murphy Is Sexy As Hell.
Once you start watching Blinders, any preconceived notions you had about that Irish stud will go out the window.
There are certain actors who were born to play certain roles (Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold on Entourage, Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights), and Murphy is one of them. He transforms into a sexy leader, one who commands the attention of a room with a glance as he sucks purposefully on his cigarette. If power, confidence and decisiveness is your thing, then you’re going to fall hard for Tom Shelby.
“It’s nice to play a guy who’s tough,” he told the Guardian. “I’d only played two villains and they were more psychological.”
Even Buzzfeed picks up what I’m throwing down.
4. Those Who Don’t Understand the Birmingham Accent Can turn on Subtitles.
I get it. I had my mother watch an episode of Call the Midwife, but she was turned off because she “couldn’t understand” anything they were saying. Subtitles will help you follow the stories, which can get very complicated. The regional accent is very thick, so don’t be ashamed if you have to follow allow with captions.
5. Everyone is watching it. EV-UH-REE-ONE.
Listen, I’m the first person to advise you to march to the beat of your own drum, but there is a reason so many sites – Yahoo, Deadspin, Pop Insomniacs – are talking about Peaky Blinders. It’s that good.
Have you watched it yet? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!