Years and Years goes down the rabbit hole as it looks over 15 years of political and technological changes through the eyes and lives of one Manchester family.
Have you ever considered the consequences of world events on your family? How something small and insignificant may have larger ramifications five, ten, or even fifteen years down the line. How are the politics, economical, technological, and social situations going to be like? In BBC’s newest mini series Years and Years these questions are presented and their consequences played out for the audience in all of its sweet and bitter realities. This BBC miniseries directed by Russell T. Davies follows one extended family through trials and tribulations from 2019 onwards through the next 15 years as the aftermath of our current decisions are displayed for all to see. With six episodes we are taken into the lives of the Lyons family, and just how the world reflects even an “ordinary” family.
The show is presented in the height of speculative fiction; just as The Handmaid’s Tale takes on an alternative American future using today’s political standings, Years and Years does so for Britain and Europe. While some of the situations when described to you may at first appear far-fetched, they really just highlight how easy it is to detach ourselves from the bigger picture and think about us and only us. Davies shows how we are not the bigger picture here, and that with one decision – say, an election – can determine if we are going to become the monsters we once defeated.
It makes you stop for a moment and think. About life. Politics and the crises related to it. The environment and health, politics and technology. While the world presented in Years and Years is set in the future, the events that rock their daily lives is fallout of what’s happening today in 2019. The technological sections feel as if they’re right out of the episodes of Black Mirror; from the trans-human developments to the antibiotic-resistant infections, the best and the worst possible scenarios play out right before our eyes.
The attributes of the Lyons family make the narrative character driven, just as much as it is driven by external events. The importance of medical tech would perhaps hold less weight for someone like Rosie Lyons’ actress Ruth Madeley who has spidia bifida. The subplot that surrounds attitudes towards the LGBTQ community and immigration have profound effects on Daniel Lyons and his partner Viktor, which ultimately leads the narrative wider afield than simply Manchester. It ultimately costs Daniel his life, and sets the climax of the action into a darker turn to the true nature of the “Erstwhile” sites.
All of the actors here are phenomenal. Emma Thompson’s display as the MP Vivienne Rook is unsettling, a caricature of power-hungry leaders and just how easy it is to redefine morality. Some of the actions caused by her fictional “Four Star Party” leave you with a sickening feeling and drawing parallels to perhaps the worst periods of human history. Muriel (Anne Reid) perhaps has some of the hardest hitting lines in the final episode. At times, it seems that she is no longer addressing the remains of her family splintered around the dining table but the audience. She is our word of caution, and the close-up shot makes no mistake about it.
Episodes have even introduced more recent events into the transitioning new broadcasts, for instance, the death of American actress Doris Day (May 13th 2019) was written into a radio broadcast in the opening episode less than 24 hours before the episode aired on BBC. It is even used to comedic effect in the closing episode, with the completed renovations on Notre Dame overshadowed by the collapse of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The show could be classed as satirical but these characters are the cautionary tale for what could happen if we do not pay closer attention. If the message of the show is anything, is that in a world full of political strife and divisions the best thing we can do is to stand together and help each other.
Years and Years is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.
Check out the trailer below: