When we Americans think of British television, we think of Downton Abbey, Doctor Who and sometimes simply: “Isn’t their TV really weird over there?”
For me, Channel 4’s new drama Utopia falls into that latter category. I expected it to be different, but not quite so ridiculously violent. My three American roommates decided to watch it with me, since they were curious…
Minutes after it began, when people in a comic store were brutally killed by suffocation or force, my roommates and I were saying: “How are they showing this on network television?”
Now, we aren’t wimps. I’ve seen Quentin Tarantino movies and just recently saw Gangster Squad. Gore and death doesn’t bother me. I expect to see that kind of violence in movies, but never to this extent on network television.
The torture scene was particularly gruesome, leaving my roommates and I cringing behind our laptops. Chillies, sand and a spoon will not be leaving my mind any time soon.
If this aired on ABC, mothers would be howling for censorship.
They particularly wouldn’t like the character Grant, an 11-year-old boy who takes care of himself, though unlike Kevin McCallister from Home Alone, he doesn’t drink milk, but beer instead. Kevin didn’t break into cars and stab men with screwdrivers, either…
In America, when someone is shot in a TV show screened on the public networks, you see the shot fired, the person recoiling and then falling to the ground, maybe a little bit of blood and the reaction of the killer/witness. During Utopia, a character stabbed a man in the street and then pulled his head back so blood would spurt out of his neck.
It was hard to watch, and at times gruesome. That said, there was definitely enough in Utopia to see me tune in again next week to see how it continues.