Thursday, December 1, 2016

Love, Nina

We're all aware of the TV and film trope of the "magical Negro" a mysterious older black man or woman who dispenses wisdom to square or sometimes racist white folks. Morgan Freeman played a lot of these parts. In Britain they have a similar concept and it's basically the magic working class person. When a member of the upper classes encounters a working class person it can be a field ripe for the magic Negro treatment or, worse, condescending mockery. I despair of these programmes and there are a lot of them because almost all of the UK's cultural product is produced by a super posh privileged minority (which is why they are generally very bad). Previews of the new BBC show Love, Nina seem to suggest that it's about a working class nanny helping super posh people in North London learn about life and love. This is the kind of show I would have run a country mile from especially since Helena Bonham Carter plays one of the posh people. Fortunately for me I didn't see any of the previews. I chanced upon the show changing channels and was immediately captivated by the writing. The writing is fucking brilliant. When you're surfing through the channels you notice how bad the writing is on everything so when you come across good writing by random it really makes an impression. And after 60 seconds of really good dialogue of Love, Nina episode 1 I was bloody hooked. The writing, I learned from the credits, was by Nick Hornby. So that explained that. The acting is also good. No, great, the acting is also great. And the story inverts the magic Negro idea by having Nina learn from the posh people just as they learn from her. It's a two way street. It's a meeting of equal cultures not colonialism. 
It's also very sweet. The sweetest, gentlest show I've seen since The Detectorists Season 1. It's as British as a decent cup of tea and a plain digestive. And funny, humane, well observed and, um, well, nice. I liked it very much. Look for Love, Nina when you're out channel surfing next time and I think you'll like it too.