Being Human is one of the most successful television series the BBC has ever produced. Its authentic, almost amateurish tone, combined with a concept that on paper would seem ludicrous even in the wake of the reinvigorated supernatural genre inspired by the critically-slammed Twilight series, is deceiving. A ghost, a vampire and a werewolf sharing a house and going about their ‘lives’ in the British city of Bristol is made compelling by excellent characterisation and a combination of comedy, tragedy and suspense. The complications of not-being-human and their attempts at humanity allows these three elements to work in synchronisation successfully.
The limited episodes per series also allows for a consistent audience. Even in the age of web-series’ and the consistent access to the entertainment it allows, Being Human is a BBC classic that BBC3 are now re-running, its quality-over-quantity appealing to the masses that still enjoy watching scheduled programmes that fit into working life.
But the true USP with Being Human is in the title: it explores the fundamentals of ourselves, using the ‘other’ – a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf – to define human identity against the supernatural, flaws and all, in a completely ordinary, even mundane, setting. Poets out there will see metaphors in abundance: elements of the storyline, such as one of the characters cheating on the woman he supposedly loves with the vampiric temptress, parallel elements of human behaviour that happen in our everyday lives. It draws people in, repels them a little, but connects on a very honest level. And that’s what keeps people watching. (Also, Aidan Turner plays a blood-sucking sex-symbol, drool.)
What does it mean to be human? Is that something we should measure ourselves against? It’s subtle, but the questions are there, shrouded in the impossible situation of three fictional entities living in a rented house in Bristol. It’s never answered, but that’s not its purpose. It makes you think. Makes you laugh. Shocks you. Then makes you think again.
The series one re-run finished last week on BBC3, but the full five-season box-set is available on Amazon for £25. For an intelligent and yet surprisingly light watch that won’t take five-thousand hours to finish like other popular shows, (Breaking Bad, anyone?), it is highly recommended.