Taboo: An Outstanding TV Series starring Tom Hardy!
Yes, it’s time to vote for the Emmy’s. This go around, I engaged in binge watching of a fascinating, psycho-thriller set in 1814 London entitled: “Taboo”. The scintillating star Tom Hardy acted, co-wrote, and co-produced this intriguing series about a man who leaves London, travels through Africa, and returns back to England upon the death of his father, a once wealthy sea merchant.
Tom Hardy, the star of “The Drop” , “Revenant” , and the tour de force, “Legend”, where he plays both Kray twins [London gangsters] has achieved a level of acting perfection not seen since Sir Lawrence Olivier. He is simply: “Terrific”, “Spellbinding”, and ‘Enthralling”. I don’t write these adjectives without some serious consideration and admiration for Hardy’s incredible versatility, having played a dour Soviet secret police in the 2015 film, “Child 44” to acting as the manically frenetic lead character, Max Rockatansky, in the “Mad Max : Fury Road”, the 2016 Academy Award Winner.
Other actors in Taboo who deserve serious consideration are: Johnathan Pryce who plays Sir Stuart Strange, Director of the almighty corrupt East India Company; Oona Chaplin [ Zilpha], Hardy’s step-sister with whom he had an incestuous relationship as well as Jefferson Hill [her jealous, self-destructive husband].
The main story line goes something like this. The East India Company tries to steal Hardy’s contract for an island off the American west coast called, “Nootka Sound”. This island is the portal to the rich opium, tea, and gun powder trade between the United States and the British East India Company. This rapacious transnational corporation does everything in its immense power to retrieve the land deed away from Hardy and his family members.
This TV show was created and written by the inimitable team of Ridley Scott, Tom Hardy, Chip Hardy [Tom’s father] and Steven Knight [Legend].
The story itself is a bit bogged down in twists and turns that are, at times, confusing and somewhat irrational. The ending has a denouement that needs far more elaboration and credibility than I can offer in this short blog. However, the theme of this TV series distributed by BBC One/FX Entertainment revolves around three basic universal premises: revenge, imperial imperatives and world injustices.
I see this film as a metaphor for the once great British Empire which underwrote the egregiously venal East India Company. The film illustrates how this supposed jewel of the British Empire raped, stole, and killed all peoples in all countries on its way to financial/political self-aggrandizement. Such acts include the purposeful drowning of 120 African slaves.
Looming in the shadows of this series is the 1812 War between England and its upstart former colony, the United States of America. The co-creators/ writers: Steve Knight, Tom and Chip Hardy are depicting the lengths to which a ruthless Anglo-Saxon empire, like England [ruled by a mad King George] will go to in order to attain world dominance.
The moral undertone was clear. “Taboo” is not only about the hidden secrets of familial incest. This TV series underscored the ruthless, forbidden practices which a nascent empire like Pax Americana would traverse in order to maintain its tenuous hegemony over a world in the distant future.
There was no question that there were several parallel undertones between our mad, power hungry American leaders: Clintons, Bush Jr, Obama and even Trump— and the portrayal of a whimsical, ruthless King George, played by Mark Gatiss. “Taboo” underscores the Royals’ major concerns revolving around its insatiable appetite for revenge and self-aggrandizement, tainted with heavy doses of sadism and madness.
This is a dark and eerie TV series, not suited for everyone. It is not action-packed. Yet, Tom Hardy’s stellar performance bracketed by an equally talented supporting cast deserves some hours away from the nightly news. For certain, this TV series should receive a slate of Emmy Awards.
The following dialogue was memorable:
Atticus [Stephen Graham]: “I thought the gunpowder was for the Americans.”
Delaney [Tom Hardy]: “We are Americans. Set sail for the Azores!”