Showtime Releases Daisy Haggard’s Darkly Funny ‘Back to Life’

© 2019 Showtime. Credit: Luke Varley.

Some people may feel that their lives have been put on hold or have not even started. While that may be an exaggeration, in the case of Miri Matteson, the protagonist of the new Showtime/BBC comedy Back to Life (Sundays beginning Nov. 10 at 9pm ET/PT), that is exactly her situation when we meet her.

The series begins as Miri, portrayed by series creator and cowriter Daisy Haggard (Episodes), is released from prison after 18 years following an incident when she was a teenager. Now in her mid 30s, she has not lived what could be considered a traditional adult life.

Miri returns to her English seaside town, moving in with her parents, in an effort to start that life, without fully knowing how to do so. However, her effort to get back to life is especially challenging given that whatever happened 18 years earlier still clouds most locals’ judgment of her. Despite paying her debt, Miri remains largely viewed as, at best, the subject of jokes and gossip, if not an outright pariah.

Those locals may know (or think they know) the dark secret of what happened with Miri and another party on that long-ago night, but viewers are not made privy straight away. Rather, the events come to light through a slow reveal over the course of the six-episode first season. That element of mystery, along with hilarious, oh-so-British humor and characters, is part of what makes Back to Life such a delightfully unique combination of genres, and a bit hard to classify, even for Haggard herself.

“I would call it a dark comedy drama with a heart,” she told us, before laughingly adding more descriptors, “and with a thread of mystery. A dark, mysterious, comedy drama. I basically can’t describe my own show. That’s a good start. “But I believe you shouldn’t have to choose what our show is. Life is like that, isn’t it? Life’s never one thing. It’s a million things. So that was one of the big feelings about the show, that it should be allowed to move swiftly between everything.”

One of the biggest characters in the show is the town itself — a lonely-looking, windswept coastal area that manages to be simultaneously bleak and lovely.

“It’s utterly beautiful and strange, isn’t it?” Haggard agreed. “Dungeness, where a lot of [the series] was filmed, is such a sort of weird and stunning place. So that was a big visual. When you look at the show, it felt like the right thing.”

Back to Life
Showtime, Sundays beginning Nov. 10, 9/8pm
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