What should I watch? Banshee

A violent macho fantasy…with a beating heart

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Banshee must be the most explicitly sexual and thuddingly violent programme ever approved in your beloved, trusted, 92-year-old RT. If I could stop watching it for long enough to think, I might have to reconsider.

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Squat heart-throb Antony Starr plays Lucas Hood, the rule-puréeing sheriff of the titular Pennsylvania town. He’s not like other sheriffs, because he’s not a real sheriff: he’s a freshly released convict living under a fake identity while he tries to win back his ex, Carrie, who’s now married and settled in Banshee.

Luckily, Carrie’s chosen to raise her family in a dark place heaving with bad guys, which means Lucas has plenty of work on.

His “break their legs now, don’t even bother to ask questions later” approach will get him killed one day, but it gets results. His habit of lustily bedding every attractive woman in town will definitely get him killed one day but, oh boy, he enjoys it. 

Clearly this fightin’, fornicatin’ vigilante is a macho fantasy. But Banshee doesn’t feature brimming buckets of sex and violence to spice up the main story. They are the story. This pulpy thriller has wisdom deeper than your fancy words.

Carrie’s collapsing marriage, for example, is mapped via a series of frank bedroom scenes that see into her mind with as much insight as any fraught dinner conversation. And when Lucas fist-fights a rapist or single-handedly eliminates a biker gang, it’s for survival — his own or an innocent civilian’s.

Crunching hand-to-hand combat, where lesser shows would blithely let Lucas shoot the guy, shows Banshee isn’t numb to the horror of violence. Quite the reverse.

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As it goes on, and we see what Lucas has undergone to stay close to Carrie, we admire his courage more than his strength and, ahem, stamina. What a man.