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Flowers (2016)

July 8, 2021 Logo Netflix Logo Tmdb Logo IMDb Logo Rotten Tomatoes Logo Metacritic Logo

Dark and quirky and disturbing but also tragically beautiful, Flowers is the binge watch you didn’t know you were waiting for.

A man and woman standing in a groomed garden
Image Courtesy of TMDb

The dark comedy follows a typical sitcom format with 30-minute episodes that feature unique situations and follows the theme of one particular family but that is where the similarity between Flowers and your garden variety sitcoms end. This show features a deeply chaotic and dysfunctional family of four that lives with depression, anxiety, denial and too many secrets and suppositions.

A scruff man, drinking a glass of wine
Image Courtesy of TMDb

The Flowers family features dad, Maurice (Julian Barret), a formerly-successful children’s author deep in a depressive state and mom, Deb (Olivia Colman) a terminally upbeat but exhausted wife and mother. Their 25 year old twins, Donald (Daniel Rigby), the failed inventor and Amy (Sophia Di Martino) a goth musician, are locked in an endless battle of sibling rivalry. If this isn’t enough bizarre chaos, throw in the live in illustrator, Shun (Will Sharpe), who is so stereo-typically Japanese that it is painful to watch at times.

Created, written and directed by Will Sharpe, it is clear that the stereotype is there is call us out rather than to concede to type. Undoubtedly informed by Sharpe’s own experience with mental illness, Flowers, does not shy away from any facet of life with mental illness. Each episode, through the story and the unique cinematography, tells a disjointed yet beautiful truth about life in this context. There is heartache and beauty and humor and sadness and each emotion has earned its place authentically.

A Japanese man sanding in a room full of books
Image Courtesy of TMDb

Not one piece of this story feels contrived or forced, not because it isn’t a bit over the top and ridiculous at times, but because the actors, especially Colman, Barret and Sharpe, bring an unbelievable depth of realism to their characters. There are moments of breathtaking honesty and genuine acceptance of the reality of mental illness that are deeply touching to watch.

Both seasons aired to high praise from viewers and critics alike. The series can be difficult to watch at times. It is a sensory overload into madness but I think it is meant to be that way. There are flashes of the nonsensical and the disturbing but those only add to the broken beauty of this work as a whole.

A man and woman in the woods, the man is holding a butterfly net
Image Courtesy of TMDb

Flowers is more than a sitcom or a television show. It is a series of 30-minute experimental art pieces set to the lives of deeply flawed yet devastatingly loving people, trapped together through biology and shared madness. And somehow, they, and the show, weave together a pure truth we rarely see on screen.

Warning scenes of self-harm and suicide are depicted.

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