Spoiler-Free Review: Happy Valley

Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) tries to crack down on drug dealers (& other criminals) in her small/rural Yorkshire community.

After watching The Fall, I noticed that MANY fans of that show recommended this one, so I decided to take a look.  After the first two eps, I was hooked.  Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire, who played a supporting role in The Paradise) is the type of cop you’d never see on network TV in the US, or perhaps never as the lead.  She’s a grandmother, no-nonsense, passionate (esp. about her family), and looks like a REAL middle-aged woman!  And when she gets beaten up on the job, the injuries are not quickly covered up w/ makeup. 

Catherine is motivated to be a good cop b/c of her (complicated) family/personal life and an inherent sense of fairness.  She is raising her grandson, Ryan, a good-hearted kid who has been acting out in school recently.  Ryan’s mother was Catherine’s only daughter. 

Do you recognize her? Clare (Siobhan Finneran from Downton Abbey) is Catherine’s sis!

At home, she has her sister, Clare (Siobhan Finneran), is a recovering drug addict who provides an ear and a lot of emotional support (in lieu of rent).  Drugs, particularly heroin, have affected MANY of the young people of this valley.  Catherine’s ex-husband, a journalist, remarried years ago, but they still have a connection.  In time, we meet Catherine’s son, Daniel, and learn about their strained relationship. 

Ashley – left (Joe Armstrong)

There are several well-developed supporting characters, including Joe Armstrong (BBC’s Robin Hood).  I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of the cops (in the background, recurring characters) were British Asians (or South Asians, as we say here).  The show is definitely a vehicle for Lancashire, who shows the many sides to a complicated individual.  Her big, expressive blue eyes and authoritative tone are great assets.  I loved ALL the scenes she had with her grandson! 

Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton)

Catherine is stunned when she sees an ex-con, Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton from Grantchurch), from her daughter’s past walking the streets.  She MUST find out more!  To fans of the movie Fargo, the awkwardly-planned/amateur kidnapping will be especially interesting.  Check out this show (Season 1 is on Netflix)- you won’t be disappointed!   

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