TV Review: Anatomy of a Scandal

Premier-grade schlock and watchable with it. Who knows how much longer Netflix can afford stuff like this so enjoy Anatomy of a Scandal while you can

“I can think of three government blokes accused of similar things”

Whatever possessed me to watch a TV show about a governmental sex scandal this weekend? The way this current administration is going, this is sadly quite the evergreen opening line but that’s just the de Pfeffel of it all, for now at least.

Based on Sarah Vaughan’s novel, Anatomy of a Scandal landed on Netflix earlier this year, from the pens of David E Kelley and Melissa James Gibson. And I don’t think I’d registered just how glossily American it was going to be, it’s very much one with the former’s work on Big Little Lies and The Undoing.

Which is all fine and dandy, once I’d clocked that this was what I was watching. We’re in the moneyed halls of the sexy elite once again, dealing with a wrinkle in their charmed lives. James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend) is a Tory MP whose affair with a subordinate rocks the world of wife Sophie (Sienna Miller), who had thought their 12 year marriage was all good.

That revelation is soon trumped by an accusation of rape though, and an engaging court case ensues with Michelle Dockery and Josette Simon as duelling QCs. Matters are undercut a little bit by repeated flashbacks to the Whitehouse’s Oxford days which eventually unfurl into a big mid-series *twist*.

So it is premier-grade schlock, laden with ludicrous dialogue and a self-important directorial style (SJ Clarkson) that really overeggs it. And it is all rather watchable without ever once really making you think about any of the issues that it skates over. Dockery and Simon are good fun, and Joshua McGuire Liz White and Phoebe Nicholls pop up briefy if entertainingly.

And Rupert Friend and Naomi Scott handle the interrogation-heavy scenes as well they can, with poor Sienna Miller too often reduced to reaction shots from the gallery. There’s hints of something interesting about power and manipulation but rarely explored deeply, the writing preferring to cheat with a too-easy ending. As I say though, highly watchable.

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