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Is Marcella too Dark for ITV Prime Time?

The ITV noir police drama Marcella has entered its second season, with the first season recently added to Netflix. However, is the show too dark and disturbing?

Television is saturated with shows that offer a disturbing glimpse into the psyche of serial killers and psychopaths through police procedural dramas: Marcella is no different. The show unflinchingly follows Marcella Backland (Anna Friel) – a former police detective – who investigates a series of murders in London which have the same modus operandi as a previously unattained serial killer. Marcella is an exciting example of a police drama as it balances the turbulent home life of Marcella, alongside her blackouts, as well as the plot of apprehending a murderer.

The show itself is fearless to follow the murder of children and paedophilia; a topic often shy away from in modern TV

The second series of the show, which follows the generic conventions of the popular Scandinavian noir dramas, is particularly disturbing due to the nature of the murders. Within 15 minutes of the first episode, a child is injected with a syringe: the torture of small boys escalating as the series progresses. The show itself fearlessly follows paedophilia and the murder of children, a topic often shied away from in modern TV. However, the scenes explicitly showing the torture of children remains shocking and hard to watch for some viewers.

The show itself utilises very dim lighting and discordant, creepy music which is extremely unsettling. Some audiences were so disturbed by the visuals and music that they switched off from the show and chose to watch something else entirely when the first episode was aired. Perhaps, in modern television, it is harder to create tension and unease for audiences, and so the common traits of horror films have been utilised within Marcella to unsettle the audience, but is it a bit too much?

The ratings of the show itself have been very successful and so the intensity of the second series appears to have not upset audiences enough not to tune in

The show itself airs on ITV at 9 pm, hardly a few minutes after the watershed. This is the prime slot, but the very nature of the show itself warrants a later start time, as some younger audiences may still be awake and tuning in. The ratings of the show itself have been very successful and so the intensity of the second series appears to have not upset audiences enough not to tune in, it remains to be seen whether the show will return for a third series.

Catch up with the sinister drama on ITV player or Netflix.

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Comments (1)

  • Andrew Mitchell

    Having stuck it out until the end, it’s time to reflect on whether it was required viewing? Not really a pleasure. And of course the final scenes left us with the option of yet another, possibly even darker series to come. At least we have The Durrells and Karma Hospital to lighten the mood. I’m sure many would like Anna Friel to do something much nicer to entertain us at 9:00pm

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