Star Rating:

Anatomy Of A Scandal 18

Streaming On: Watch Anatomy Of A Scandal on Netflix

Season: 1

Episode: 6

Actors: Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery, Rupert Friend, Naomi Scott

Release Date: Friday 15th April 2022

Genre(s): Drama, Romance

The series proves that no, not every single best-selling book needs to be made into a TV series or movie.

Billed as a psychological thriller, 'Anatomy Of A Scandal' feels more like a courtroom drama series that you might pop on for a lazy Sunday afternoon watch, drift off halfway through, and then wake up for a cup of tea and a biscuit for the series' climax (and your snack choice being more exciting than what's unfolding on screen).

The six-part hour-long drama series is based on Sarah Vaughan's acclaimed novel of the same name, which aims to put the potential criminalising actions of the silver-spooned, British elite under a microscope. A fictional tale, Vaughan's novel was inspired by her former career as a courtroom correspondent and political journalist. While we're sure the subject matter is a must-read, we're far less sure that it needed to be made into a series.

James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend) is a Minister in Parliament. He, his wife Sophie (Sienna Miller), and their two children's lives get upended when a woman named Olivia (Naomi Scott) steps forward, claiming that the Minister raped her while in their offices. Barrister Kate Woodcroft (Michelle Dockery) serves as the prosecution, unhinged in wanting to take down this man and his career.

The drama segways between the fallout from the accusations and the eventual courtroom scenario; flashbacks of the incident, as told by both parties in court; and James and Sophie's teenage past while at school in Oxford, where they first met.

While there is a very serious subject matter at hand here, none of the characters has any warmth to them; they feel out of touch and far too worried about saving their own back for viewers to really invest any time in. It's like each character has their own hidden agenda - which works so well in the likes of 'Succession' for example - but for a six-episode mini-series around the subject of rape, it feels out of touch and cold.

Naomi Scott's Olivia comes the closest to being a likeable character, tearfully telling her side of the shameful story to a packed-out courtroom. However, her role is brief and short-lived, after another more "scandalous" subject matter comes to the forefront of the narrative later in the series.

It's hard to pinpoint what it is about these characters that are so unlikeable. Is it their drawling, painfully proper British accents? Is it the fact that the two main characters' surnames are "Whitehouse"? Or is it just that we've seen this sexual deceit storyline time and time again, but done much better?

There are also some rather bizarre dream/imaginary sequences that occur throughout, such as in episode one when James literally flies through the air backwards after being told by police of the sexual allegations. It feels too stylistic and surface-level for a subject matter such as this, coming off nearly comical. There are, however, nicer camera moments of the past and present blending into one scene when past memories are visited by the characters.

While there are a couple of eyebrow-raising moments, 'Anatomy Of A Scandal' falls well short of being addictive, or any sort of an enjoyable watch. You'll find your mind wandering to such topics like: Why did Sienna Miller and Michelle Dockery agree to this? Is that the "perfectly splendid" girl from 'The Haunting Of Bly Manor'? And just how many biscuits can I eat before falling asleep to this show again?

'Anatomy Of A Scandal' hits Netflix on April 15.