From the instant you hear those first few beats, the show gives off a dreary vibe that lets the audience know its characters play no games. The main theme sounds like a cross between an old gypsy circus and the jazz of the 1920’s. A theme that perfectly describes the Shelby family as band of Irish Gypsies fresh from World War I, climbing their way to top of the crime ring in 1920s England.
Peaky Blinders is loosely based on the gang by the same name and follows the family behind the gang, the Shelby’s. It begins with the brothers returning from war: Arthur, Thomas, and John. Although Arthur is the oldest, the show lets you know from the very start who the real brain behind the gang is: Thomas Shelby. Brilliantly played by Nolan alum Cillian Murphy, Thomas returns to Birmingham with a vengeance to push the Shelby name to the very top of the English black list. During this era, much like in America, England was controlled by various crime families; the English, the Italians, the Jews, and the Russians all have a part to play. The show follows Thomas as he and his band of misfits fight their way to the top.
Known as the gang who sew razor blades in the peaks of their caps, Peaker Blinders captures the rough essence of Shelby’s not only through its characters, but also through its perfect setting. Set against the back drop of Birmingham in the aftermath of the War, the city is dark and grimy with factory workers covered in dust and ash. Children run the streets and crime runs wild as the police do nothing since they’re in the pockets of Blinders.
As for the characters, each is played amazingly by their respective actors and give off a sense of history with each other that makes us care more for these criminals simply trying to get ahead. We get to see each of the brothers struggle with their remnants from war: Arthur with an unstable character, John having to care for his children with the death of their mother, and Tommy having to deal with the nightmares of the tunnels he had to work in.
What I love most about the show is its deep understanding of the time and place in which it takes place. The series presents the gypsy camps, the grimy English cities, the sense of respect between enemies that fought side by side in France and so many other small but appreciated details that give the show so much depth. Even as we watch these characters commit heinous crimes, we root for the Shelby’s and truly care for members of the family. Although Tommy is seen as the criminal throughout, the show does an excellent job of showcasing him as this tragic figure damaged from war like all those who returned from France.
This show is so good, Tom Hardy himself signed on to play the leader of the Jewish gang in both season 2 and season 3. With the success of season 3, Peaky Blinder’s has already been picked up for two more seasons. Although it’s not made by Netflix, they do own the rights in America, making this show a true Netflix Gem that can’t be missed.
Jorge Chabo is a sophomore majoring in Economics BA. He’s from Miami, heavily into politics, and enjoys going to the movies.