The week on television: it will hurt; Chloe; Invent Anna; Starstruck | Television

This is going to hurt BBC One | iPlayer
Chloe (BBC One) | iPlayer
Invent Anna netflix
Starstruck (BBC One) | iPlayer

If you’re expecting a baby, it might be best to give BBC One’s new seven-part drama This is going to hurt step aside and watch something cooler with less gore: say, the Red Wedding Massacre on game of thrones?

Adapted by doctor-turned-writer Adam Kay from his bestselling 2017 memoir of the same name, and directed by Lucy Forbes (In my skin), GREENHOUSE is like a medically sanctioned slasher movie. The opening scene involves obstetrics and gynecology (“kids and pussies”) acting registrar Adam (Ben Whishaw), freshly asleep in his car, encountering a woman whose unborn baby’s arm hangs out of her like a bloody spindle. As the series unfolds (all episodes are on iPlayer), blood, guts, and placentas are thrown out the bucket; trainees faint in cesarean section incisions; fetal heartbeats disappear; the vulvas are mutilated.

As you would expect, the carnage comes with socio-political undertones, showing the underfunded and overstretched NHS as broken. Doctors weave through drab hallways like zombie extras in The Walking Dead. Patients are sometimes stupid or racist. Nor are the staff presented, in a flashy and reductive way, as saints and angels. For his part, Adam is human, fallible and not so nice with it. He makes a terrible mistake and tries to cover it up. Treated like a serf by his consultant (Alex Jennings), he’s proportionately mean and sarcastic (“So close, yet so crappy”) to his nervous underling, played by Ambika Mod. Meanwhile, Adam’s personal life with his fiancé (Rory Fleck Byrne) is in tatters. A colleague observes wryly: “You should mention the gay thing at work. People might be warmer to you.

The result is graphically reminiscent of that of Jed Mercurio Body, but this time from the perspective of an unwitting villain who also does good… it’s complicated. The tone swings so violently between light and shadow that it sometimes forgets to take the viewer with it, but Whishaw effectively embodies the bloodshot-eyed desperation of a macho work culture where every slip can mean life. or death.

If the medical profession is plagued by impostor syndrome, then Chloethe six-part BBC One thriller created, written and directed by Alice Seabright (Sex education), is about embracing fraud in a social media-riddled world where the heavily curated screen life is king.

Erin Doherty (Princess Anne in The crown) stars as Becky, first spied on obsessively scrolling through Chloe’s (Poppy Gilbert) Instagram feed. Chloe’s perfect existence (big house, perfect marriage, yoga, blah, blah) seems to mock Becky’s reality: an office temp living with a dementia-stricken mother. When Chloe dies, Becky transforms into Sasha, an art person, and infiltrates Chloe’s social group, including her best friend (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and husband (Billy Howle) . What does Becky do and what was her relationship with Chloe?

Doherty gives a beautifully ambiguous performance in which it’s hard to tell if Becky is smart or just messy. Her eyes shine coldly, victoriously, as she successfully navigates her new clique: a voluminous, arty dress here, a carefully calibrated accent there, relaxed rights everywhere. The real Becky continues to slip through the cracks (hate, envy, need), but there’s also honesty. She knows she’s a construct – a talentless Mrs. Ripley – but that’s still better than who and what she really is.

“Magnificently Ambiguous”: Erin Doherty in Chloe. Photography: Luke Varley/BBC/Mam Tor Productions

I love I sucked it all in like a super smoothie. But unfortunately, a few episodes (again, the whole series is on iPlayer), Chloe becomes muddy and formulaic, with an outcome as improbable as it is overexplained. Although still watchable, it was not a patch on previous episodes, in which Chloe is a study of the mores of social climbing in the modern age, with mischievous flashes by Patricia Highsmith. Doherty is superb, barely needs to speak: his intense, hyper-vigilant face says it all.

Another delightful imposter of the social media era arrives in Shonda Rhimes’ latest nine-part Netflix offering Invent Annapartly directed by David Frankel (The devil wears Prada) and based on a 2018 New York magazine article, How Anna Delvey Fooled New York’s Partygoers, by Jessica Pressler.

Julia Garner stars as Delvey, real name Anna Sorokin, who poses as a fake German heiress, managing to dupe Big Apple high society and (almost) the banking world into funding her multimillion-dollar schemes , including a Park Avenue social club. In real life, Sorokin was imprisoned for her crimes (after her release, she was detained again for overstaying her visa).

Julia Garner as Anna Delvey, left, and Anna Chlumsky as Vivian Kent in Inventing Anna.
Julia Garner as Anna Delvey, left, and Anna Chlumsky as Vivian Kent in Inventing Anna, a “dronically repetitive” film. Photography: Nicole Rivelli/Netflix

I was expecting a full scale high end scam review, but unfortunately Invent Anna is a padded mess. Despite being overwhelmed by her wigs, Garner is sufficiently fierce and bossy as Delvey – demanding private jets; denouncing people as “basic” – but after a while his narcissistic shtick (“My dad will wire the money”) becomes repetitive buzzing.

Also, Delvey’s relationship with journalist Vivian (Anna Chlumsky), presumably representing Pressler, is overstated, as are the relentless footage that follows the journalistic process – we practically end up writing the story with Vivian (I know we, journalists, are very sexy and all, but Watergate it is not). Invent Anna would have worked much better had it focused on Delvey’s flawed but hypnotic mess, rather than Delvey’s story. I was shocked to be bored and wondering if other viewers would hold out until the end.

Nikesh Patel and Rose Matafeo return to Starstruck.
Nikesh Patel and Rose Matafeo return to Starstruck. Photography: Shamil Tanna/BBC/Avalon UK

The first series of the UK-based millennial romcom-sitcom Starstruck was an unexpected success last year. Created and co-written by New Zealand comedian Rose Matafeo, it followed her character, Jessie, as she tumbled into a relationship with famed actor Tom (Nikesh Patel).

The second six-part series begins with Jessie not returning to New Zealand after all, and she and Tom continue their adventures as a weird couple. The script remains ample, the charisma of Matafeo doing a lot of work. Still, it’s a warm and easy watch. Minnie Driver reprises her role as Tom’s selfish agent (“I recognize you on Instagram. Do you realize everyone can see that?”), and I’m sure we’d all love – to like — to find out who Russell Tovey based his obnoxious, masculine director on. While Starstruck makes obvious nods to Notting Hillthe atmosphere remains zones 4-6, and that’s good.

What else am I watching

Imagine… Marian Keyes: My (not so) perfect life
(BBC One)
Alan Yentob’s art series portrays successful Irish writer Marian Keyes. She speaks candidly about alcohol addiction, depression and the blatant chauvinism directed at “chick lit”. Direct, engaging, intelligent, Keyes never disappoints.

Marian Keyes in My (Not So) Perfect Life.
Marian Keyes in My (Not So) Perfect Life. Photography: Tom Hayward/BBC Studios

Love is blind
(Netflix)
It’s back – the second series of the hit dating show where couples meet in the dark and are then stunned to discover they may not have much in common after all. It may be absurd, but it’s also addicting.

60 days with the gypsies
(Channel 4)
In the raw, sometimes alarming opener to this documentary series, explorer Ed Stafford experiences the ups and downs of life with Roma gypsies and Irish travellers, distrust of strangers and evictions constantly forcing them to move on to something else.

Ed Stafford in 60 Days with the Gypsies.
Ed Stafford in 60 Days with the Gypsies. Photo: Channel 4