For Her Sins review: This laughable Channel 5 drama had more cliches and plot holes than thrills
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And For Her Sins (Channel 5, Mon-Thurs, 9pm) was certainly no exception to this rule.
Laura (Jo Joyner) enjoys your typical, well-to-do middle-class life in the suburbs – two young kids, a husband often away with work, a kitchen with a central island the size of Madagascar.
Into this John Lewis ad life walks Emily (Rachel Shenton), who proceeds to drop truth bombs, knives and pills through it, leaving Laura's well-ordered existence in tatters.
There's revenge, childhood trauma, the hint of sex. But what is there isn't is any sense, and coherence in the plot, and any truth in the characterisations.
With a bit more skin on show, For Her Sins would be exactly like those 'erotic' 'thrillers' which littered the shelves of your local video shop in the 80s and 90s, usually called something like A Dangerous Woman or Deadly Instinct, and all of them starring Shannon Tweed and Richard Grieco.
Clichés abound. Emily stalks around looking impossibly glamorous in beautiful clothes for someone who has walked out on her job as a nanny, while her liking for scarlet lipstick clearly marks her out as a femme fatale.
Meanwhile, Laura is dressed in leggings and over-sized cardigans, rarely has time for any make-up and is currently juggling her young family while husband is away. A husband, by the way, who doesn't seem to take on his fair share of parenting and criticises Laura when she brings it up.
In fact, there is a fair bit of misogyny going on here. Not only does Emily – spoiler alert – turn out to be a by-the-numbers kitchen-knife wielding psycho-woman from hell, but she turns up at the precise moment Laura is wanting to return to work and actually regain a bit of herself after several years of virtually single motherhood.
But the show can't let her get away with that, so here comes the stereotypically demented woman to put the woman who wants more than motherhood in her place.
Laura is even reduced to reassuring her husband that she's not turning her back on him and the kids by returning to work.
“Do you miss it,” husband Rob asks Laura, “the days before marriage and children?”
“I love all this,” says Laura. “It's the reason I get up in the morning. I mean, those hungry little humans don't give me much choice, but I love our life.”
As the four episodes – I know, four – continue, the absurdities mount.
Laura has tried to repress memories of a horrendous incident from our childhood, yet keeps a box full of newspaper clippings of the incident under her bed.
A journalist – natch – is after Laura's real story and doesn't seem to much care how Emily brings him the inside information.
While Emily seems virtually indestructible, badly cutting her hand on a mirror without even so much as a plaster in subsequent episodes, before pouring scalding water all over her arm, then pulling her sleeve down and carrying on as if it were a mild inconvenience.
All this before staging an apparent suicide, typing Laura's 'suicide note', printing it out and then forging her signature – WITH HER FULL NAME.
It's odd – Channel 5 can do drama. Its adaptation of PD James' Dalgliesh novels is terrific and the reboot of All Creatures Great and Small, also starring Shenton, is a warm, comforting delight.
But then it turns out sludge like For Her Sins, and it puts you off trying anything else they have to offer. If you got past episode one, congratulations. But you also need to find something better to watch.
For actual drama, character-driven conflict and triumph over adversity, you could do a lot worse than trying Gods of Tennis (BBC2, Sun, 9pm, all episodes on iPlayer). Looking at the tennis greats who raised the profile of tennis – and wider issues of sexism, racism and classism – through the 70s, it was a terrific watch.
Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig (Channel 4, Weds, 9pm) was a John Lewis ad made flesh, in which Sandi and her guest Suzy Izzard tripped round western Ireland, staying in various beautiful houses with wonderful soft furnishings. Slightly smug, but it turned out to be surprisingly affecting.