The second TV adaptation of the 1969 novel of the same name by Andrea Newman -- the first, which ran in 1976, was considered notoriously risque -- this "Bouquet of Barbed Wire" startles more with its characterization than any content. The Ashley Pearce-directed show is a warped, Freudian hallucination about baby's first boyfriend in which Prue (Imogen Poots), the adored 17-year-old only child of well-to-do parents Peter (Trevor Eve) and Cassie Manson (Hermione Norris), brings home exactly the wrong boyfriend her dad would want paired with his coddled offspring.
But she is dating someone, who she introduces to her family at a doozy of a dinner. Gavin Sorenson (Tom Riley) is her English teacher, a contemptuous, aggressively working-class older man who seems to already know something about Peter -- or is that just Peter's paranoid projection on him? Gavin mocks Peter's talk of Prue going to college as just "aspirational fantasies of her dear old dad" -- because, he reveals in something like spiteful triumph, he's gotten Prue pregnant, and she's going to leave school to come live with him in his shabby tower block in Hackney.
The series also interestingly hints that as much as Peter wants to see his child as a pawn in and victim of his feud with Gavin, the overindulged Prue is as entranced with the idea of immolating her own future by clinging to her openly contemptuous beau as Peter is horrified by it, and that a part of her takes pleasure in abruptly rejecting her father and his smothering affections. With side affairs and other acts of calculated cruelty, "Bouquet of Barbed Wire" presents a bitter view of the world, but one from which it's hard to look away.