This is the second BBC Three programme I have watched recently (the first being Fleabag), and it’s interesting how much the channel has improved since moving online only. This series follows Holly McStay, a new university student in Scotland who becomes embroiled in a shadowy organisation fronted by a “clique” of attractive women.
The series is very compelling, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you hooked. The performances across the board are very strong, with Louise Brealey (Sherlock‘s Molly) giving an especially strong performance as the head of the company.
It is also refreshing to watch a series with so many strong, complex and varied female characters. I think this year has shown a real improvement in how women are portrayed on screen, with films and TV series which put women front and centre, in narratives which aren’t centred around women-only issues. This and Fleabag show that it doesn’t matter what gender the lead characters are, a great story is a great story, and people will watch and enjoy it.
However, this is not to say that the programme is flawless. It suffers from many of the problems which plague post-Skins teen programming, i.e. an reliance on sex, drugs and swearing in order to shock the viewer. Personally, I find some of this stuff a bit alienating, and a bit tiresome, as anyone who has watched HBO has seen this stuff a million times. I wish writers would have the bravery to make a great programme without relying on these shock tactics. Only something like Fargo or Happy Valley tell amazing stories with only a minimal amount of any of these and they aid the realism of the programmes rather than taking me out of them.
Also, there are too many episodes. This programme is fantastic up until the final episode, which pulls the rug out from under the audience too much and ends up relying on insane coincidence, becoming unsatisfying and silly. Personally I felt the early reveal of the scandal was too tame, and I could have done with more melodrama, but this swiftly disappeared when I saw where they took it. Also, the very end of the series is too neat, which tends to be a problem with limited series, because they don’t have the luxury of cliffhangers. However, the TV adaptation of Apple Tree Yard did this perfectly, with an ending so brilliant that it is only in the final seconds of the episodes when you are given an earth shattering reveal. Clique just seemed to give up.
I would urge people to watch this series; I found it exciting, unpredictable (for the most part) and very well acted. I also really enjoyed the fact that women were put front and centre in this series and they all gave their characters depth and emotion. With less of the excessive nonsense which has become more and more predictable with every new TV show, this programme would have been show stopping, even with the ridiculous ending. Even so, I was happy I watched Clique and was never less than thoroughly entertained.
The full series of Clique is available to watch on BBC iPlayer as well as on DVD. Image source: Lifestyle.one