Being Human Review: Ep. 1

“How noble of you to take on the curse of immortality so that your men could wither and decay in hospitals and old people’s homes!”

Being Human

A ghost, a vampire and a werewolf share a house. It sounds like the set-up for a joke, but while Being Human is occasionally rather funny, it’s also a heartfelt, well-acted piece of drama.

I haven’t seen the show before, but BBC3 seems to be rerunning it, and I thought I had better not overload on Afterlife. This first episode sees a group of twenty-somethings (well, actually, probably 100-somethings, but they look 20, which is sort of the point) trying to deal with their Issues, which are distinguished from normal, boring issues by virtue of the fact that they’re supernatural Issues and are more likely to involve killing people than putting the wrong kind of fuel in your car.

I’m being flippant, but Being Human wears its heart on its sleeve. In its title, even. Being human is tricky, even when you’re not. Annie the ghost has to deal with the fact that her ex-fiancé can’t see her and has Moved On. Mitch the vampire has to try not to kill the people he sleeps with. George the werewolf destroys the furniture once a month. It’s a show that looks, through a glass darkly, at concerns that almost could be real, and makes them into matters of life and death – validates them, makes them important, makes them weighty. Relationships and emotions and homes feel important to us, even if they don’t look important to outsiders, and this is a way of translating felt importance into objective importance.

It’s not, it has to be said, a very subtle approach, and it’s something that a lot of fantasy, particularly at the moment, does. But Being Human‘s execution is actually quite good. Unusually for a supernatural drama, the performances feel grounded and true, and its plot doesn’t show too much of a predilection for spiralling off into melodrama. Not as slippily potent as Afterlife, but certainly worth it for the entertainment value. (Also, Aidan Turner, he of Poldark fame.)

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