Eve Best, Suranne Jones and Stockard Channing in the same show? Perhaps inevitably, Maryland doesn’t quite live up to expectation
“What was she doing on the Isle of Man?”
Created by Suranne Jones and Anne-Marie O’Connor and starring the former with Eve Best and written by the latter, Maryland is a three-part ITV drama that aired in May of this year. Set mostly on the Isle of Man, it follows the fractious and fractured sisterly relationship between Jones’ Becca and Best’s Rosaline as they deal with the death of their mother and the avalanche of family secrets that emerges thereafter.
Everyone in Mary’s family thought she was on holiday in Wales with a friend so the news that her body has been found on a beach on the Isle of Man is a surprise in more ways than one. The daughters – not quite estranged but certainly not close – fly over to begin the process of repatriating the body but as they happen on details of what has been going on, they discover that their mother had been leading a double life.
Over three ITV-length episodes, there’s not quite the level of character depth and detail that you want here, as the story is one that proves to be quietly but determinedly gripping. The mood is one of reflective family drama rather than any kind of thriller as the complexities of changing family bonds is unpicked slowly in some parts, wrenched apart in anger in others and the question of what happens next when it is family left exposed.
Jones is superb as Becca, deeply settled into family life having married young and truly unnerved by the revelations that family history isn’t picture perfect. And Best’s more urbane Rosaline is compelling as her choices of career and sexy lovers are equally thrown into stark relief by the extreme change in pace amid the Irish Sea. Dean Lennox Kelly and Hugh Quarshie are great as the best of Manx men and Stockard Channing is a hoot, though possibly (defintely) miscast, as a kooky friend of Mary’s with lots to say.