Critical Condition: Years and Years

Years and Years | SoHo, 8.30 Monday/Neon

☆☆☆☆ “Following one family, the Lyons, from 2019 until 2031 – through, among other things, the rise of populism and the inching encroachment of tech – it is half sci-fi dystopia, half kitchen-sink drama, and does both with equal verve. It hums with urgent and unsettling realism, and staggering human cost.” — New Statesman.

☆☆☆☆ “A combination of smart writing, clever pacing and an impressive ensemble cast results in a truly compelling watch. Yes, there’s a certain amount of partisan politicising at work here, but its harrowing message is delivered with such panache, power and perfectly pitched drama that this deserves – at least on the first couple of episodes – to be considered alongside apocalypse classics such asThe Day AfterFail Safe and theBBC’s own Survivors.” — Stuff.

☆☆☆☆ “The first episode begins in May 2019, and subsequent instalments push deep into the 2020s, far enough to reveal that our future history looks less like an arc towards progress than a whirlpool of entropy … To its credit, Years and Years — among the most emotionally involving, and best, series to air so far this year — keeps its aperture narrow even as the world keeps forcing its way in. This is, above all, the story of a family, one whose ordinariness makes them a powerful vehicle for telling the future.” — Variety.

☆☆☆☆ “Using the near-future to satirise and comment on the present is hardly a novel approach, but even so, Years and Years has been a strange and original beast. For all the sharp depiction of our encroaching tech nightmare and of populism run amok, the breakneck, state-of-the-nation preachiness has often been a bit much. You have to hand it to Russell T Davies — he knows how to throw a kitchen sink into the mix. And for a final flourish? Some existential profundity too.” — The Times.

☆☆☆ “Occasionally the script becomes a little too elegiac, a little too didactic, but the strong ensemble (which also includes Jessica Hynes, and Anne Reid as the matriarch) carries a naturalistic tone even through these more portentous moments. That is, all except for Emma Thompson, who is wonderfully cartoonish in her (as yet background) role as a Katie Hopkins-style demagogue who establishes a new populist movement.” — Financial Times.

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