For anyone who has the stomach to watch a fictional leader slowly create an irreparable rift in a country based on stoking anti-immigrant fears and inciting politically motivated violence, “Years and Years” offers the chance to see Emma Thompson take on the role.
Thompson stars in the limited series, the latest in a line of BBC ventures that have a stateside home at HBO. The actress plays a lightning-rod government figure who stakes claim to some all-too-familiar outgrowths of divisive populist rhetoric. As her success takes hold of the country, the effects of her policies play out in the lives of a handful of families.
“Years and Years” starts its timeline in 2019, but then ventures on far into the future to see what effect these decisions and waves of public paranoia have on the individuals at the show’s center and the population at large.
Much of that effect is felt through four siblings in the Lyons family. Stephen (Rory Kinnear) and his wife Celeste (T’Nia Miller) try to make a life for themselves at the epicenter of this groundswell in London. Daniel (Russell Tovey) navigates what these changes mean for him and his fiancee. Edith (Jessica Hynes) and Rosie (Ruth Madeley) do their best to help keep some sense of normalcy amidst all the volatile changes happening nationwide.
As these developments progress, the show also tracks various technological and social changes. (That surprise real-life Snapchat filter seems as plausible as it does terrifying.) It’s Thompson’s first extended TV role since her part in another HBO miniseries, the landmark 2003 production of “Angels in America.” Tovey is also making an HBO return after appearing on the series “Looking.”
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The show just debuted in the UK earlier this week and will run through mid-June, finishing right as it makes its way to HBO audiences. The six-part series was created and written by Russell T. Davies, whose last TV effort was “A Very English Scandal,” which debuted on Amazon Prime Video last year.
Watch the full trailer (including what might be a “Men in Black”-style mind-wiping device?) below:
“Years and Years” premieres June 24 on HBO.